Belfast 2nd day Part one

Belfast

Belfast, Ormeau Road

This post is being written over a course of days even more than a year after it happened. But as I sit on my porch back here in Wilkinsburg – the weather is oddly as beautiful as it was this day in Belfast. That is one of the many things of that day I am enjoying going over in my mind. Now of course I have forgotten many other things and the order that they happened in.      But I am surprised about how much I remember.

Maybe that is the nature of traveling and being some place for only a day or two. So I do want to continue where I was in Belfast.

DSC01881

maeve takes an arty photo of my Belfast haircut.

The day was very relaxed where Maeve and I got to catch up a little, and discuss the writing process. my contribution to the conversation is how much I hate doing it. Then we were around her neighborhood a bit – I got my hair cut – the women at the salon  were the only English speaking people – during my whole 4 months in the UK –  that I really did not understand, (except of course for D. Wayne).

I noticed in walking around that I thought that the men here seemed to look more like American men than in England and Scotland. We went to Maeve’s favorite place for lunch – Down the street and she told me more about the history of the area and how  any one from there there knows who is Protestant and who is Catholic just by meeting them. I found out Maeve’s Father had been Bernadette Devlin’s campaign manager! And there were a few good stories about that.

enjoying Tom and Mary's dinner

enjoying Tom and Mary’s dinner

Maeve worked well with my MS limitations. We would walk together for bits but she had a number of errands to do and was able to go off on her pace and do them while I strolled and looked at things at my pace. I am reminded of this because I think the next thing we did after lunch was go to her friend Mary and Tom’s for what we thought would be tea but turned out to be their dinner. That is why I was going from lunch then a walk then to tea. Maeve did lots of things while I did the walking part.

DSC01877

The garden

Their garden was the perfect place to enjoy this beautiful day,  share their dinner and get a tour of their sculptural house and their daughter’s art work. And Mary gave me a Celtic Cross. It was a joy to be with Maeve and Mary in their friendship and to hear about how things were in Belfast back their respective days. Very complicated and a weird thing for the likes of me to be next to the place that I heard and saw in the news when I was growing up. I think of them as black and white and now it is in color. That may be because our TV was black and white as were newspapers and Life Magazine photos.

Mary and Maeve

Mary and Maeve

But we a had to run back and get dressed and party ready for Caroline to drive us to Mandela Hall and Alabama 3!  My second one!

 

 

Posted in Alabama 3, My Multiple Sclerosis | Leave a comment

June 26 Ardrossan to Stranraer, to Carnryan to Larne to Belfast!

Three parts: to the Stranraer then Cairnryan, to Belfast , then meeting up with Maeve

DSC01861

Stone wall at Stranraer.

In the morning, my host insisted that she take me to the train station as she was taking her girl to school. I remember being so happy to be away from her and so glad to see the man at the train station to help me. We had to walk half a block away to go over the bridge and back down to the other side to avoid the stairs. Actually I think it was he who told me I was missed at Dalmuir. I like thinking that there was a conversation about me between Dalmuir and Ardrossan. We had a nice chat while waiting for the train. Pretty sure he was the one that told me that I wanted a cab from Stranraer where the train went to and Carnryan where the Ferry leaves from, instead of waiting for the bus.

DSC01856

One of the train helpers who sorted me with the days plans.

This is the thing. For some reason with all of the wonderful transportation from one remote place to another, the timing of connections is way off. In fact the locations of connections is off. To the point that one tends to think it is deliberate. For example the ferry used to leave from Stranraer, A lovely Harbor town but was moved away to a sort of nowhere place of Carnryan. And there’s only 3 buses that travel between them and those are not coordinated with the train times. And on the other end the ferry goes into Larne, a place a bit North of Belfast and the next train into the city was an hour after – the last one mind.  So I was on my way to Stranraer and quite happy about it – Had not yet learned to be chuffed – that would not come until Late summer.

The train ride down was interesting and mostly pretty with some industry but nothing so majestic as north of Glasgow. And the station I arrived into was the standard issue of cute, the surroundings were industrial seaside and the helpers were the usual friendly and charming. They sorted me with a taxi service and said the best thing was to hang out in Stranraer rather than Cairnryan then get the taxi to the Ferry depot.

DSC01857

Waiting for the taxi while looking back at the rest of Scotland.

DSC01859

Looking back at the train station which is cute on the inside.

DSC01862

This was just where I wanted to be. That whole counter on the left was filled with deserts.

So in Stranraer I got to have a good meal in a proper establishment with the usual huge selection of sweets. Then a little sight see since this castly building was right across the street in the middle of the town. It was the Castle of Saint John, built in 1500 as a Laird house, then for government troops during the “Killing Times”, then a prison, now a tourist site. I waited for the taxi in the little park next to it.

DSC01863

Fireplace in the Castle of St. John

DSC01864

the ferry depot at Carnryan.

DSC01865

This is why when I watch the Great British work choir competition – or what ever it’s called, I root for P&O – even though that choir was out of Dover or Fishguard or somewhere else Souf.

The ferry depot was a big high ceiling place with many tables and a few vending machines and I forget the very important sporting event on the TV. There were lots of depot police which made me nervous and it was like going through airport security which I hadn’t expected. That’s because to me there was no difference between going back and forth between Skye and the mainland and going back and forth between Scotland and Northern Ireland.  But there is. Anyway, a wait then a bus ride right to the inside of the ferry then an elevator to the special travel suite – for only a few pounds more! – with a stewar waiting for me with my name on the list.

DSC01866

Scotland behind me. Right outside of the little lounge area.

Here I must give a  Thank you to my  fellow MS Turtle member Janet who was a travel agent and travels a great deal now. She said go for anything that makes it easier, the better seat etc. take a cab and have a few less beers. Anyway I was glad to travel with comfy couches and seats and newspapers and free coffee and tea and snacks. So the trip to Ireland was uneventful except that in that rainy mist I could see Ireland in the distance. Really – Ireland its own self – I know these folks divide it up into bits, and a few of my ancestors come from several different bits I was told, of them but to me it’s one big Island of Irishness and I was going  there.

DSC01868

Ireland in front of me.

So of course with all that excitement and reverie was a tad damped by the empty, except for me, Larne Depot where I had to wait almost an hour for the last train to Belfast. Going direct to Belfast is an option but some scheduly, financial thing made me choose Larne. Plus this way I got to see a bit of a sense of the area outside Belfast.

DSC01870

Maeve with my luggage. Not the only reason I was so happy to see her. Those flags went with the building behind – she was not wearing them in her hair.

Anyway The train ride into Belfast was pretty engaging including British Flags at half mast. I thought that Mandela had finally died (that was the bad TV in Ft William – every two minutes there was breaking news that Mandela was on his deathbed). Turns out that’s not the case – more on this later. I could see this is quite the beautiful city. Then into the Great Victoria Station and right there was Maeve! Boy was I glad to see her. Straight away she took me across to The Crown – one of the oldest pubs in Belfast – lots of wood mosaics and glass and little partitioned places called snugs of benches around one tables Well worth a look at the photos: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/crown-bar/.

P1010312

Me so happy – to be there at the Crown.

So I met Maeve through our tree hugging work in Wilkinsburg – I’m on the Shade Tree Committee and Maeve was with a special program to come to the states and worked here with Tree Vitalize and Nine Mile Run Watershed Association and had the hard job of knocking on doors and asking people if they wanted trees. Most didn’t. In fact here it can be like knocking on doors and asking if you want a rat in in your yard. Now she works with the Royal Society of the Protection of Birds. So we got to share our snug initially with some  jerky guys from Yorkish area building a highway and removing Bird Habitat. I insulted them by thinking they had an Australian accent. I wish I had done it on purpose. That was the last time I tried to guess accents. (I hope)

DSC01110

Stone Soup Neighborhood Garden. Maeve did alot of work here and is showing small children how to plant. I was copying.

DSC01108

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then she took me to where she lodges in the Lower Ormeau neighborhood with a wonderfully fun woman named Caroline. I got to see have my own bed in my own room and shower in a private clean bathroom. It was so wonderful. We took a walk to the end of the street to look at the River Lagan. Beautiful pedestrian ways on both sides of the river. I was so happy to be there in that really beautiful city.

DSC01873

Maeve’s Street – She lives at Caroline’s in one of the first houses. There is a beautiful river at the end of this street.

Posted in My Multiple Sclerosis, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

June 25, Ft William to Ardrossan, where lessons were learned

This day came in three parts: Time in Fort William, the train ride and the Ardrossan.

DSC01838

Bustling Fort William

First:Since I had timed things so that I had lots of time, I was able to go down the hill from the hostel and walk around the town and get a breakfast,(where I discovered TV news here can be bad as our TV news) and then back up the hill to the Hostel then a cab to the train station. The town was busy with everyday folks as well as tourists. A lot of people use Ft. William as a base to get out to the country and mountains especially Ben Nevis.

DSC01836

view to the town looking left from the hostel

DSC01844

view to the right

At the train station I did what I do when I get to any train station: go up and to the window and introduce myself and tell them where I am so they can find me and help me onto the correct train.   This train station had the best cafe, an old fashioned place with a wide variety of Arty Post Cards.

DSC01845

My favorite train station cafe so far.

Second: Now I refer you back to the website: http://www.docbrown.info/docspics/scotland/sspage25.htm to see what I saw for about 3 and half hours. (Again, scroll down to Fort William and go upwards) Either way it was quite stupendous. Great swaths with no sign of human life what so ever. Even when I thought I saw sheep , turns out they were white rocks.

DSC01846

Next time

I changed trains at Dalmuir so I would not need to get from Queens Station to Glasgow Central which are a few blocks from each other and terribly inconvenient. So when I identified myself to the man at the ticket office at Dalmuir) he told me he had no one there to help me. (Turns out there was. I found out at Ardrossan from the guy who met me there.) So I was left on my own to get on the train. Something I have anxiety about due to my luggage, the short stop and how big a step and or gap there can be.) Of course other passengers helped me.

Three: So I from what looked like a quaint little area when I got off the train I had my cab ride to the Couch Surfer person in Ardrossan. Right away this lady seemed odd and off putting, but here I want to think of what I need to say as this story proceeds, as this woman haunted me for a bit through the trip. In fact, a few days ago, I had a dream that I had to return there to get my siutcases. Which since I’m writing this sort of came true. That said, if this annoying woman was the only trouble I had with all of the strangers I met, some I now consider dear friends, then I would be incredibly lucky. And I am incredibly lucky.

DSC01847

Where I got off of the train at Saltcoats, and got a taxi. Sorry i didn’t get a chance to look at this part.

Mainly she was nuts, in a self absorbed,thoughtless and stupid kind of way: on the phone all of the time talking about how involved and active with couchsurfing she was.

As I had no dinner with me, hosts aren’t obliged to offer meals, and more importantly, she had no wifi,  – I had not realized how important that would be as at most stops I had to make train connections to the next stations and contact my next hosts and try to write my blog – we can see how that worked and do any banking, etc. She directed me to the ASDA (a big store I had not heard of before)  “Just down the hill”, like they all say. And it was down hill. 1.2 miles. ( If I mentioned that I was disabled – the cane might be a clue there – and really tired once I said it ten times.) I hadn’t thought to ask about a bus nor had she thought to mention it. My not thinking when I’m what I call now travel tired was one of the lessons.

The walk was mostly straight down a street with older row houses like Pittsburgh’s uptown but pastels like the housing where I was staying. And no trees. Of course I enjoyed being in the library, and finding a dinner to nuke, I found a bus to take back up the hill but I couldn’t remember the address where I was I got off early and wandered around an area where all the houses look alike sort of what we would call tract housing. On the way down I saw at least three folks usually with friends being totally “off their tits”. Never saw so many in such a brief space of time on a sunny Monday dinnertime. But on the way back as I was wandering around trying to make my way I had the most delightful interactions with some very sweet girls, running up to me and any one else to show them their tiny pet in a box. It was a bee.

DSC01852

You can see what houses look like from the back. i was surprised at how few trees there were. The older buildings, towards the water were these colors also.

So I’m back and eating and this lady starts to really annoy me. Telling what routes and times I should get to the Ferry.(I had a planand lots of time to get there the next day. This lady thought I should spend it in Ardrossan.). I restrained myself from saying I want to get as far away from you as fast as possble. Instead I said I had already made these arrangements with the train people who meet me and help me. She said “who cares about them  – they’re a company” Now she’s talking about a lot of always friendly and gracious people who have made this trip by train even doable for me. One of the things that makes UK a magical place. She also kept telling me how she was going to be going to Belfast for a big Party on the 12th  – “They have Bonfires and everything” – I’m glad that I didn’t know how crazy that was at the time.

So I try to go to bed

It bothered me how trusting she was with her daughter and strangers – including actually wanting her to sleep with the other couchsurfer sleeping on the top bunk, a  young woman on her way to Glasto. I was reassured by her as she seemed quite sane and had stayed with this woman before. (I was on the bottom bunk.) Actually what I was most concerned about as this woman seemed stranger and controlling was that she could accuse me of something inappropriate with the little girl. The little girl had no bed time and would climb up and down the ladder to the top bunk repeatedly after I had gone to bed. The hostess was waiting up for a family who was going to stay in her room through Air BNB. That was her funds for the two of them to go to Belfast for the 12th

Needless to say I didn’t sleep well but I didn’t care as the next day meant I would not be around this crazy lady, Whom no one else seemed bothered by except for the little girl.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

June 24, Mallaig to Fort William

DSC01833

What one sees when exiting the ferry.

The crossing from Armadale to Mallaig was a short one.  It was a long haul out of the ferry then plenty of time before the train down to Fort William. Trouble was the really cute train station was not open so my already limited ability to explore was hampered further by needing to lug the stupid squeaky suitcase as well as my knapsack with incredibly heavy laptop and my Moop bag which carries more than I should be. Well it wouldn’t if I didn’t cram it full of every possible outerwear contingency plan.

DSC01835

Now this is a rock garden. I ate across the street from this.

Well, there looks to be many places to eat in Maillaig but I went with the closest one with fewest stairs and was quite glad.  I mostly remember that I had a window view of the town and fish caught right there that day. A real treat for a Pittsburgher.

Then to wait for the train with the others. Of course I don’t have photos of the main point of this – the landscape the train travels through – but fortunately a man called Doc Brown Does. Actually he went from below Glasgow up to Mallaig but if you were to scroll all the way down to the bottom of his page then start from the bottom up ’til you get to Ft. William and then stop, you would see what I saw. http://www.docbrown.info/docspics/scotland/sspage25.htm. Now I will include this link on my next post as the rest of it is what I saw the next day. Plus he seems to know the place names that I didn’t. I traveled with my map but still wasn’t always sure. I especially like that he includes the little train stations.

DSC01834

The closed train station. Fortunately the weather was dry as there wasn’t much cover where we waited on the tracks.

Then a taxi to the Hostel.  And as my legs were done for the day I stayed in for the night. I must have carried something with me to eat Because I remember using the kitchen, and I remember trying to use the wifi which seemed to be available in one place and to one person at  time.  But I mostly remember the great pair of young women who were my room mates. Firstly because the one offered me her bed. I don’t know if it was the look on my face when I saw the long ladder to the top bunk that was available or my age or my I had the cane very visible. In any case I got the single bed by the window and enjoyed a bit of talk with these travelers from Australia and new Zealand who were living here for a couple of years, before they went to dinner and I went to bed even though it was quite light out still. It had been quite  day.

DSC01841

Entrance to the Hostel in Fort William

DSC01843

My arty picture of the wall next to the hostel

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

June 23 Let’s go Back to Scotland: Fairies and ferries

View from the Cafe at the earlier ferry

The ferry that I didn’t take.

So here and now as I write the holidays are over – actually not quite for me – I’m writing in late January and have my tree up and cards to write yet.  But I am quite anxious to get back to telling my tale of travels and adventure: We left off at the Pier in Armadale, the only thing on the agenda was to travel to Fort William by Ferry and Train.

Looking at the pier from the dress shop. The cafe is way to the right. I can't remember the name of these beautiful blue bushes.

Looking at the pier from the dress shop. The cafe is way to the right. I can’t remember the name of these beautiful blue bushes.

Having been deposited on the pier  at the same cafe as yesterday, and after a great breakfast – in that same crowded tiny box of windows,  I made an adventurous decision. It turns out that also at this very pier, in addition to  quite fun clothing store, was Rhubha Phoil:  the Isle of Skye Permaculture Centre, Herb Gardens and Woodland Walk. (see  http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/skye/rubhaphoil.shtml for pronunciation plus other good info on walks all over Scotland).  This had been one of the places I was not going to get a chance to visit. So despite the ferry ticket fellow strongly recommending that I board the next ferry, since the weather did not look good, I was very aware of “now or maybe never” and I decided to chance it and take a look at Rubha Phoil.

educational signage

educational signage

Valerian The sign says that it stimulates earthworms and is good for vegetables.

Valerian The sign says that it stimulates earthworms and is good for vegetables.

So I walked up this path that looked like any path to the woods with some potted plants and a rough sign, and shortly came across a few friendly young folk building something. They directed me to Sandy Masson’s house. Now I had met Sandy, Founder and Director of this place at the Permaculture Convergence- thanks to Danny Alderslowe who found her and introduced her when he heard I was going onto Skye.

I was a bit on the path before I started taking photos

I was a bit on the path before I started taking photos

Once up the small path one is quickly in the woods, and I couldn’t quite suss out how to get to this house and was quickly taken in by the path through the woods that lead past work areas and  fairy places and the forest sculptures and seal and otter observation perches, beautiful places. Of course it was so wonderful for me was to be able to take a walk of this length and sense of wilderness. But what made it especially wonderful was to concurrently have it be in such a singular beauty that if I see again will not be for  long time and  to be in a working piece of land both teaching and producing , like my visit with Patricia, addressing similar concerns and interests of mine back home.

Looking down on the dress shop roof - and water

Looking down on the dress shop roof – and water

People Bothy

People Bothy

From one of the seal or otter observation areas.

A wild life observation area: seals and otters.

I saw no wild life while there.

I saw no wild life while there.

But there was a bench I could sit on and feel so so so lucky, blessed and fortunate.

But there was a bench I could sit on and feel so so so lucky, blessed and fortunate.

Rhododendrons I think. They are an invasive here but Sandy said that she doesn't bother with them.

Rhododendrons I think. They are an invasive here but Sandy said that she doesn’t bother with them.

Comin' down

Comin’ down

The occasional sculpture

The occasional sculpture

Fairy Bothy (Shelter)

Fairy Bothy

DSC01827DSC01828

Well, I followed the path all the way around  and met up with the nice people who had finished their project. For the life of me I can’t remember what it was  – a big gateway sign – I think. They got me connected to Sandy who took me into her great woodland home and took great time with me and was very kind.

This is Sandy Masson. She is pointing to a flag of Scotland. Fair to say she is pro - independence. Something they will be voting on September 2014.

This is Sandy Masson. She is pointing to a flag of Scotland. Fair to say she is pro – independence. Something they will be voting on September 2014.

This isn't Sandy's house. Its a charming shed of some sort.

This isn’t Sandy’s house. Its a charming shed of some sort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So from there it was down to the ferry where, my bags had been stashed, and had enough time to rest up for boarding the ferry – which I was very concerned about being able to do on my own. And once on  short ride to Maillaig. I must of been very sad to leave as I remember tearing up as we got further and further from Skye.

On the ferry to Maillag. No pictures outside as It was cold and rainy and I was comfy and ensconced and resting up for disembarking.

On the ferry to Maillag. No pictures outside as It was cold and rainy and I was comfy and ensconced and resting up for disembarking.

Watching other people buy tickets for the ferry

Watching other people buy tickets for the ferry

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Interuption from past and future

the group of us at Touchstone doing an independent woodfiring.

the group of us at Touchstone doing an independent woodfiring.

I want to take a break right here brought on by talking about feeling at home with the potters.

Three things: –

One is that is a big part of my identity even though I’m far from accomplished. I consider my work so far quite embryonic. And in fact one of my hopes for this trip is to have some kind of clay breakthrough.Working in clay keeps me sane when I have a real job and is the closest I get to meditating. And I have made some very good friends through the process.

Marlene and I glazing - something we both hate. We also both hand-build. Those perfectly round orbs at the bottom are hers - pinched

Marlene and I glazing – something we both hate. We also both hand-build. Those perfectly round orbs at the bottom are hers – pinched.

Which brings me to the second thing –  One of those friends – Marlene Boyle  – passed away towards the end of my trip. You can see her in these  pictures another friend, Tracy, took of a group wood fire we had rearranged at Touchstone  – A crafts camp south of Pittsburgh – near Frank Lloyd Wright’s  Falling Water in fact. This points out one of the aspects of writing this log well after the actual events. (Another one being that I can’t remember things I was sure I would have).

 

my and my body of work in the glaze room.

my and my body of work in the glaze room.

And the third is – since I’m showing these photos I thought – as a process person I would take this opportunity to show folks unfamiliar what a wood fire involves. And a little of what where I’m from looks like.- The country part.

These are from 09, not a great time for me as I’m struggling with learning how to participate in this physically demanding process with my MS, (even with being given a huge amount of slack). And my work was even more anemic than usual due to the MS – not so much my hands themselves but having taken such a break from using my hands in clay in terms of trying to deal with the other parts of MS. When the times came that I could work, my hands were all rusty and I had to refigure how to move the clay through it’s stages while figuring out how to work me through my stages.

That’s Tracey on the left which for some reason when I publish this it won’t hold her caption.

the creek on the other side of the wood pile. This is november those rhododendren are native not invasive like they are in UK.

the creek on the other side of the wood pile. This is November those rhododendron are native not invasive like they are in UK.

Tracey

 

Wild life:bears
Wild life:bears
Wild life: worm on my bowel

Wild life: worm on my bowel

Jill and her perfect cone packs. These are placed at spots in each chamber to gauge the temperature. The different colors fall when a certain amount of heat is absorbed.

Jill and her perfect cone packs. These are placed at spots in each chamber to gauge the temperature. The different colors fall when a certain amount of heat is absorbed.

Me wadding my pieses. Wadding is like a mixture like home made play dough that you stick on the bottom of your pieces so that they don't become permanently attached to the shelves. Not a fun part to do.

Me wadding my pieces. Wadding is like a mixture like home made play dough that you stick on the bottom of your pieces so that they don’t become permanently attached to the shelves. Not a fun part to do.

Loading - Joe was the finder - the ware is arranged by shelf height but I would call for certian shapes and sizes to fill it. The idea is to think how the fire would be guided through the kiln and hit the work.

Loading – Joe was the finder – the ware is arranged by shelf height but I would call for certain shapes and sizes to fill it. The idea is to think how the fire would be guided through the kiln and hit the work.

Loading the salt chamber, looking towards where Falling Water is.

Loading the salt chamber, looking towards where Falling Water is.

Jill's already bricking the door. Numbered bricks are so pretty when it comes to that arch.

Jill’s already bricking the door. Numbered bricks are so pretty when it comes to that arch.

Finishing touches. putting the last pieces on the bagwall.

Finishing touches. putting the last pieces on the bagwall.

cleaning up the dust after the door is bricked and mudded and papered.

cleaning up the dust after the door is bricked and mudded and papered.

Let the festivities begin!  A little tiny fire in front of the intake ports.

Let the festivities begin!
A little tiny fire in front of the intake ports.

This is candeling. It heats up the chambers and deposits ash on the pieces. It goes on for hours and hours  and is my favorite part of  the firing process. 'Cause its easy.

This is candling. It heats up the chambers and deposits ash on the pieces. It goes on for hours and hours and is my favorite part of the firing process. ‘Cause its easy.

The fire's moved into the kiln

The fire’s moved into the kiln

Cook until Done: Jill, Marlene and Valda, the Hardest working women in Wood firing. This part goes on for days bringing the fire from the front into the back chamber, timing the stokes by the fire coming from the blow holes.

Cook until Done:
Jill, Marlene and Valda, the Hardest working women in Wood firing. This part goes on for days bringing the fire from the front into the back chamber, timing the stokes by the fire coming from the blow holes.

The last part of the firing is putting the salt into the salt kiln. It's a ceremonial process with all participants and maybe guests taking a turn putting the salt in on a long strip of bark. Somewhere there is another ceremonial ending with whiskey but I can't remember what that is .

The last part of the firing is putting the salt into the salt kiln. It’s a ceremonial process with all participants and maybe guests taking a turn putting the salt in on a long strip of bark. Somewhere there is another ceremonial ending with whiskey but I can’t remember what that is .

The end result which was not great. The pieces in the lower left hand show what happens when the required temperature isn't reached.

One week later:The end result which was not great. The pieces in the lower left hand show what happens when the required temperature isn’t reached.

What happens when a piece falls off of the bag wall into the fire.

What happens when a piece falls off of the bag wall into the fire.

Me Marlene and Valda Final checks

Me, Marlene and Valda Final checks

Putting the shelf supports back by size. That shelf Valda is carrying is not light. the chisel Marlene has is for scraping wadding off of bricks and shelves. Least fun part of the process.

Deconstructing: That shelf Valda has isn’t light, and Marlene has a chisel to scrape off the wadding and clay peices that stuck. Least fun part of this process.

 

Marlene peeks out over the large pile of ash we did not remove before all of this - Let that be a lesson to all wood fire folk.
Marlene peeks out over the large pile of ash we did not remove before all of this – Let that be a lesson to all wood fire folk.
My worm bowl after firing. The warpage that happened in the kiln in my mind works on this peice but really it's a sign of poor technique.

My worm bowl after firing. The warpage that happened in the kiln in my mind works on this piece but really it’s a sign of poor technique.

A shot glass Marlene made and gave to me that says -" May the work that you have be the play that you have"

A shot glass Marlene made and gave to me that says -” May the work that you have be the play that you love”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

June 22, Patricia Shone, Potter

Patricia and an unfired pot.

Patricia and an unfired pot.

I first came across Patricia’s work back when this trip back  was just a gleam in my eye. I was looking for wood firing ceramicists and came across her site. – And I just fell in love with her work, plus she’s located on Skye. (her “about ” page has a wonderful video of her giving a demo complete with local scenery). Her work has the  shared powers of ancient terrains and just manipulated clay -which is a very ephemeral state.

Over the course of planning this trip we were in contact and she was very kind and helpful. However I was in no way prepared for the generosity of time and teaching she offered me on this rainy afternoon.

View from Patricia's Studio

View from Patricia’s Studio

I got a cab from the hostel – which fascinates me. It’s an ordeal to get a cab in Pittsburgh but in this sparsely populated area I could arrange a cab and of course the driver knew Patricia and where she lived.

From the back of her studio

From the back of her studio

The first part of this visit was not only a tour of her  studio, and an inspection of the wood kiln, and conversation about several things clay and finding the head and heart time to work, and finding one’s voice, but also  – this was the humbling surprise here – A lesson on her technique! I was so thrilled.

The demo pot for my lesson

The demo pot for my lesson

After a while it was time for her to take the dogs for their long walks so it was agreed that she would do that while I had a sit and at the cafe at the pier, then she would get me then give me a tour of the Island. So here is another place where I can’t believe that I didn’t take a picture. This cafe – was a tiny tiny  bright many windowed box with an outdoor service window and 3 tables inside. very close together. – But the food was wonderful and fresh and homemade.

When Patricia came to get there had been a change of plans. Friends of hers,potters, Catherine Holtet, quite experienced and her husband, who was just getting into it, had stopped by for a visit so we went back to Patricia’s for tea and of course they wanted to see the kiln too.

to the right of the kiln

to the right of the kiln

Front of kiln Fire box

Front of kiln Fire box

Inside of kiln to the left

Inside of kiln to the left

See how it's tucked into the hill

See how it’s tucked into the hill.

This turned out to be an especially sweet experience for me. By being in the company of friends who are potters, even though both were virtual strangers to me – there was the spirit of being with my friends and doing what I love to do with other folks who a: love the doing the same thing but be whose work is very different from each other.  Certain things seem universal to potters: when picking cups for tea there is the discussion of which one because most potters have a selection of their friends work that they admire. So when a selection is made there is a knowledge of the maker of the cup that is most intimate. What brands they drink and smoke, who their partners are, how they were affected by the accident, the illness, the divorce. And I wish I could remember the name of the maker of the cup that Catherine picked because while we were out looking at the kiln the dogs got to the tea tray and that cup broke. So there was a tad more feeling than if any old cup had broken.

porn for wood firers: this how things can be when you have your own kiln

porn for wood firers: this how things can be when you have your own kiln

There is the similarity in this community as well about the difficult folk – who keep this life choice from always being nirvana – that and the lack of pay. We  had a  discussion of how we love  others’ work and  – this became an important theme on the trip – Patricia spoke of the influence of an artist who told her that one needs to learn to love their own work. I think it was late pm I was taken back to the hostel. But I have stayed in touch with Patricia and so hope that when I return to UK (God Willing), it involves another visit with Patricia.

Patricia’s website: http://www.patriciashone.co.uk/index.php,

Catherine’s: http://www.theweeviking.com/

Patricia's vase in my room back in Pittsburgh.

Patricia’s vase in my room back in Pittsburgh.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment