Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Devil Cats & Horse Racing

I grew up in Salem, NH. The only thing Salem was famous for, other than not being the Salem where they burned witches, was the race track. Rockingham Park was a huge piece of land right in the middle of town. Surrounded by chain link, it was the on again, off again home of a large community of nomadic horse race people.

This curious group of dream chasers came from all over the world. Many lived on the track, sleeping in tiny, dark tack rooms, thick with the musty smell of equine. Some stayed in hotel rooms, mobile homes or in the many studio apartments that surrounded the track.

When we were kids, my parents would park the car along the fence where we would watch dusty men feed & groom these magnificent animals. They'd clip those tired creatures, slick with sweat, to what we called the merry-go-round, where they'd walk in listless circles as they cooled down and dried off after a race. We would eat ice cream & wish we could work there some day.

Decades later, I found myself living in a studio apartment next to the track. I could look out of my kitchen window, through the chain link fence and onto the same scene I watched as a child. The place was tiny - one room with a kitchenette that included a refrigerator too small to hold even a six pack or box-o-wine. It had character - floors that sloped in an easterly direction, a stain on the ceiling shaped like Texas, a shower stall the size of a small coffin. Me and my little life fit in there, but just barely. On summer days, I would throw open the windows and the rich scent of horses & hay would waft in on the breeze.

At that time, I was attending community college full time and waiting tables at a local restaurant & bar. Life was a simple routine of classes, study, work and hangovers. One night, one of my regulars approached me at the end of my shift. A cute transplant from Philadelphia, he needed a favor - just this one and he would owe me forever. Watch his cat for two weeks while he was in Florida. I like cats. I said ok.

I don't remember what Nicky called his cat, but I called him Devil Cat. In the short time he was with me, he pretty much destroyed my house - literally pulling down curtains and knocking pictures off the walls. Devil cat was an outdoor cat. He reacted to being kept inside like I was running a prison camp, making a mad dash for the door every time I came and went. Keeping him inside was a fricken nightmare.

So, it's a beautiful and sunny Saturday morning. I'm getting ready for work. I open the windows, feed the cat and hit the shower. When I emerge the first thing I notice are the kitchen curtains fluttering in the breeze. Then I see that the screen is gone. So is the fricken cat.

I run outside. I'm in my bathrobe. I have a towel on my head. He's sitting on the other side of a fence that has got to be, what, six feet tall? I cannot believe this. I want to kill this cat and stuff him down Nicky's throat. I walk along the fence calling him in my most soothing & comforting voice. I am starting to feel crazy woman coming on.

I reach the back corner of the fence. There is no fricken way around it. The only way I'm getting that cat is to go over it. As if by cue, there is actually a cut log lying the in grass and a cinder block on the other side of the fence. The decision is made. I'm goin' over.

Ok, so why I don't go in the house and put on clothes before I do this - I can't say. I forge ahead. Throw the towel on the grass. Start climbing & somehow make it over the top. As I jump to the ground, I don't see my bathrobe catch the top of the fence. When I hit the ground, it is literally torn from me. I am standing on the other side of the fence, on racetrack property, completely naked.

I look around. The yard is empty except for one small, dark man standing in a sunny doorway, holding a rake. I let out a shriek and start yanking on my robe - it is not coming down. Horrified, I look back at the man. A friend has joined him - he shades his eyes & smiles. I feel like I'm in a bad movie - I cannot believe this is happening. I turn my bare white ass to them, drag the cinder block over, climb up and free my robe. Let me tell you this - when you're standing outside naked in front of strangers, you cannot cover up fast enough. Unbelievably, Devil Cat walks right over to me. I pick him up, wanting to squeeze him until his eyes bug out, climb onto the cinder block and throw him over the fence.

I don't remember much about the return climb. What I do remember is that Nicky never did come for Devil Cat. Ever. I heard he'd moved back to Philly. I moved to Vermont, where being naked outside was both common and legal. Devil Cat moved in with my neighbor, Shirley.

The men in the yard that day? They've probably returned to a land where the sun bakes the earth dry & the nights are cold and quiet except for the sounds of their horses. They'll tell stories of their years on the road, of races won and lost and of the all people they'd met. And they'll smile when they tell the story about the naked woman in Salem, New Hampshire.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Job Opening - Creative Assistant

Creative? Interested in bringing your talents and energy to a growing company? Museware Pottery is looking for one creative self starter to join our fun and slightly wacky staff. This entry level position will expose you to all aspects of custom and personalized pottery production.

Duties vary widely - we all wear a lot of hats. They include production painting, kiln room management (glazing, loading, firing) packing, shipping and general studio maintenance. Oh, and I leave my dishes in the sink. A lot.

The ideal candidate will have a creative background - though not necessarily job related. A sincere desire to work in a creative field will do. You'll need strong organizational skills and an ability to multi task, all while working under pressure. Oh, an basic computer skills.

While I am known to be a slightly neurotic boss, an ability to avoid telling me that to my face will enhance your career. Some schedule flexibility is required. Due to deadlines, some days end only after the work at hand is complete. Occasional weekend work is required, particularly during the holiday season.

General hours are Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM. Pay starts at $9 per hour. Benefits are not currently available, but we have plans to become very famous. Come grow with us! This full time position starts in mid June. Half time training to start immediately.

Please send your resume to sheree at museware pottery dot com. Include a short note telling me about yourself, what you have to offer and why you'd like to spend most of your day with us. This is not a traditional work environment. When the kilns are firing, the studio temperature is often over 100*. Sometimes we work in our underpants.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Underpants. Continued...

I found them. Plain underpants that cover my equipment but aren't big enough to carry groceries in. Fabric smooth enough to allow even the tightest fat jeans to glide over. Waist band elastic tight enough to hold them up but loose enough not to bulge my out handles.

That's me, on the right. Fricken fine. That's me on the right, hanging from the bathroom door frame. With the lights dimmed. Can I get away with nothing with you people?

Where did I find them, you ask? Wal-mart. Seriously. Wal-mart, purveyor of Chinese imports, enslaver of the helpless. $4 bucks a pair. Hanging on mini plastic hangers right between teenylacypinkthings and buttcrackflossythings. Just down the isle from omarthetentpants.

Cool. According to this tag, which includes a Spanish translation, my satisfaction with these underpants is guaranteed. If I am not completely satisfied, it states, I can return them for a refund or replacement. I am seriously saving this tag. The minute one iota of fabric from these pants even thinks of sneaking between my cheeks, they are going back. Apparently to Alabama.

Y'all come back now. You hear?

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I picked my underwear out of my butt a dozen times today. I tried every adjustment possible - nothing worked. This day was just one in a series of bad underwear days. A lot of things can challenge even my best day - no skim milk for my tea, over cooked eggs at the diner, having to call my teenage son 10 times before he gets out of bed. These are minor, temporary setbacks. Underwear in my crack - well there's a day that just doesn't end.

I knew these were problem pants when I stepped into them this morning. The first sign was the fact that they were the last pair in the drawer. Sign Two: The long string of bare elastic dangling from the leg opening. The one that wouldn't break off and kept getting longer and longer? Sign Three: The waistband that tore on both sides as I pulled them on. I knew, even as I zipped my jeans, that I was headed for a day of underwear hell.

In my decades of wearing cheap underwear, I've devised a number of ways to release a wedgie other than picking. I practiced them all today. Next to the classic pick, the most effective is when I pretend to tuck in my shirt, reach into the back of the offending pants and push them out. Another involves tugging my jeans down in the hope that the underwear will follow. The least effective and most distracting is this weird hip roll thing I've perfected, which I'm sure causes people to question my history with the pole.

I know. It's time to go shopping. I've tried. Here is what I found. The People In Charge Of Underwear fall into these distinct camps:

1. Pantie People - purveyors of flimsy scraps of fabric, embellished with scratchy lace and bows. There's not enough fabric to cover one cheek and enough pink to rot your teeth.

2. Thong People - who have somehow convinced millions of women that fabric crammed between the cheeks is comfortable. I tried them when they first came out. They are not. I spent the first week perpetually horny. After that wore off, I realized I was an idiot with an inadequate sex life.

3. Cotton Brief People: These are makers of functional, comfortable foundation garments. These come in a variety of colors and hang out of the back of your jeans when you lean forward. And not in a good way. They're a step away from the last category:

4. Granny Pants. These are the biggest pants in the world. Please, God. Please don't let my ass ever get big enough to fill them.

Tomorrow is a big day. I'm heading out with a sense of purpose. I will find underwear that don't ride up or fall down. They won't have lace, bows, hearts or teddy bears. The back will cover both of my cheeks. The front will be wide enough to cover my stuff. The next time you see me, I won't be picking my butt, rolling my hips or have my hands in my pants. A lot of people will be relieved to hear this.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My Studio. My Place. My Crib.

Hey, I thought I would show you all where I spend my days. And many of my nights. Welcome to the third and hopefully, final home of Museware Pottery. There are many wonderful things about our new home but at the top of the list is the fact that it is heated. This winter - 70. Last winter - most days around 50.

This is our main production table. It's where my production manager, Nicole, spends most of her time. She's a machine and has turned the art of hand painted pottery into a science. She loves her job and tells me she'd come here even if I didn't pay her. Her Mantra: Don't be jealous of my skillz. See that big tree in the background? His name is Benjamin. I named him back in the day when I was reading The Secret Life of Plants and having regular conversations with him. Oh, and sleeping under a pyramid. I bought him in 1975 and placed him on a doily on my coffee table. It's hard for me to imagine my ever owning a doily.

This is our "kitchen." We call it that because it includes a refrigerator and microwave but very little cooking takes place in it. The water that flows from the faucet smells slightly swampy and always makes us think one of us farted. She who smelt it, dealt it.

The shelves on the left house my collection of mosaic glass - the remnants of an earlier creative obsession. Seven years ago, no surface was safe around me. I couldn't look at a piece of pottery without imagining it in pieces. One bottle contains the remains of a hideous bull fighter figurine found at a flea market. When the guy who sold it started to wrap it, I told him not to bother - I planned smash it. He looked stricken, like I was about to destroy a rare artifact. Because $3 can buy a thing of historic value.

This area is is behind the production table and is where we keep our tools, paint supplies and working bisque. See that tool chest? It was a Christmas gift to myself two years ago. $250 for the entire thing. At Sears. It's a Craftsman. Three pieces. Ball bearing drawer slides. That noise is the sound of me beating my chest. Men gaze at it with complete envy. Don't ya just hate it when all they care about is your chest?

Now this is where the magic happens. This is my workspace. The table is 5' x8' and full of junk. My actual work area consists of a small area in front of my chair. I usually blame the mess on a lack of storage. Total crap. Give me a warehouse and I'd still have junk on my table. Before having my son 15+ years ago, I was compulsively neat. My house looked like a magazine. I am apparently healed.

Our kiln room is efficiency expert Lara's domain. Lara is wicked organized - she's been with us - wow - 8 months and I haven't once had to organize her kiln carts. You've got to know I just issued a huge compliment. No one can touch me in kiln cart organization. Don't be jealous of my skillz. This room is exactly large enough to house three kilns. One foot less and it wouldn't have worked. As long as she stays tiny, she won't have to worry about brushing her cheeks against 1835* stainless steel. When we run all three kilns along with the room vent, the temperature only gets to 90*. That's a lot cooler than the 115* we've suffered in the past. While I have not seen how heat effects Lara's temperament, I can tell you it turns me into a biting, evil shrew.
Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wicked Scary.

Thystle, who perpetually has her finger on the pulse of the world of hip, told me about this cool site where you can upload a picture and create an Obamaesque icon of yourself.

This Scary Face self portrait is the result of fruitless photo shoot a couple of months ago. For the life of me, I just don't see Lauren Holly here. You?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

New York, Yew Nork

Last week I spent a week in New York. Because enough hasn't been written about the Big A, The City That Never Sleeps, I'm compelled to add my take: There are a shit load of people in NY. From my room on the 21st floor, on 34th and 8th, I could look down upon enough tiny people to populate my entire town. Most of them were walking.

Unless being led around by their dogs, people in my world walk under these circumstances: 1. Dead car. 2. No car. 3. No license. While there may be exceptions - those who trudge through snow up to their knees along unplowed terrain because they want to, these people are generally crazy and should be avoided. If you get too close, they may ask you to join them. My best friend, Janet, falls into this category.

My trip into The City was flawless. I hit the road at 7:15 and arrived in NY State at 11:30. Drove right past my hotel on the way to the Javits. Pulled into the Javits Center and right into a parking spot. After dropping off my load, I asked one of New York's finest for directions. He was pleased to tell me that I look just like Lauren Holly. I had no idea who she was (it's lonely under my rock) but since it's rare for someone to say that you look just like some dog, I received his compliment in a most charming way. When I arrived at my hotel, there was a parking space out front. I handed my keys to some guy and watched it drive away.

I won't bore you with show details. The best part about it was the great company in my booth - Larry of Clay Design and Victoria of Dream Fabric Printing. All three of us are pretty much non-stop talkers. Sometimes we actually listened to one another. They were great company and I can't wait to see them again in August.

As planned, I had dinner at Chez Veasey, home of the wicked famous Lorrie Veasey and Sexyhusbandomine. Here is the real scoop on the Veasey family: Sexyhusbandomine = Hunk. And he fed the kids and did the dishes while we talked. He should host a husband/boyfriend bootcamp. I'd immediately sign up Ireland. Oh, and those cute kids she blogs about? Seriously cute. And polite. We may think Lorrie walks on water, but she's a regular gal like the rest of us. I hugged her and those Beautiful Berthas moved right out of the way just like regular, non-famous boobage.

Cut to the last day of the trip. I call for my car - which sounds almost as cool as my agent. Two hours later, I'm still waiting. I'm beginning to wonder if the guy in front of the hotel drove it to Jersey and cut it into tiny pieces. Eventually it shows up. Whew. I'm not an idiot. I drive to the Javits and find it in absolute grid lock. No way to get anywhere near it. I drive around the block and approach it from a new angle. Not happening. As I prepare to make another 1/2 hour pass around the block, my gas light comes on. I see a entrance to the parking lot. I don't wonder why no one else is taking advantage of this clear passage. I just drive right in.

"License and registration, please." Do I know what I just did, he asks? I just ignored a Do Not Enter sign. (Ok, I am an idiot.) As I reach for my papers, I hear him say "Hey, you're the one who looks just like Lauren Holly." I flash him my most convincing LH smile. I still don't know who she is. That's ok, he says. Why don't you just back right into that space over there.

I heart New York.

Friday, February 6, 2009

WHAT is UP with you people?

Don't you guys have a life? I take a couple of stinkin' days to get some work done, open my reader and find SIXTY-FOUR posts to catch up on? I mean, seriously. Fricken A. I just went back to check the number and now it's 65. WTF. Do you people not sleep?

Ok, since it's obvious that I'm playing in the big leagues, where I clearly have no business, I quit. I quit trying to keep up with you. Especially you, Dooce. Here is the question: How can you be pregnant, run around after a 5 year old, keep a house, two dogs and a husband and still find time to write 31 posts in less than two weeks? There is something that is just not right about that. Someone in that house has got to be suffering. I'm not posting and everyone in my house suffers. You make me look bad.

And YOU! India! 8 posts when you're supposed to be lying on a beach? I haven't found time to read them, so I don't know if you've been kidnapped and are blogging from a dark room in some basement or if you found some pay per word program and are laughing all the way to the bank.

So without mentioning any real names (Thys, Mud, KWR, Suburb - you know who you are) this is what I have to say: Knock it off. Go to work. Clean your house. Go out and get drunk. Have sex in the back yard. Step away from the computer

Whew. I feel better.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Reaaly Late Notes On Atlanta

Ok. I'm running a little behind here. I wrote this post weeks ago and it's been languishing in my drafts. At the rate I'm going, I figure old news is better than no news.

Three weeks ago, I took a weekend business trip to Atlanta. With the exception of arriving late in Charlotte and having to run to catch my connecting flight and coupled with the fact that I did not end up standing on a wing in the middle of the Hudson River, the trip was flawless.

You'll recall from my last post that my wardrobe was a burning issue. I traveled in jeans. The bad news is that I broke my vow and bought a pair in a larger size. The good news is that while I am no longer an 8, I am also not a 10. By the time I reached Charlotte, the fricken things were falling off of me and dragging on the ground. I ditched them in CLT and donned a pair of black slacks. (That was for you, Thystle.)

The Atlanta airport is huge. Had I known there was a train that runs from one end to the other, I'd have avoided walking the 6 miles between one gate and the rapid transit system that took me directly to downtown. By the time I reached it, my feet were screaming get the F off of me. It dropped me less than a block from from America's Mart, the biggest fricken design and gift center I've ever seen. Which was less than a block away from my hotel. Round trip MARTA fare - four bucks. This was a seriously good deal which did nothing to prepare me for my one hotel meal.

On Sunday morning, I decided to continue my morning breakfast routine - two eggs, over easy, wheat toast, beans and coffee ($3.24 plus tip at my diner.) The same breakfast in the Hyatt dining room? $24.79 plus tip. WTF? Exactly what can be done to eggs to make them worth my entire breakfast budget for a week? If I hadn't known my waiter was completely innocent, I'd have dipped my cloth napkin in my $4.75 cup of coffee (are you fricken kidding me?) and snapped his skinny ass with the end of it. I know. I got issues.

I arrived home Monday morning in a summer weight jacket. The guy next to me on the plane was wearing flip flops. The shuttle drove right past my car - buried under 9" of snow and plowed in on three sides. Dropped me off forty cars away. At a deserted bus stop. At 1:15 am. Just so you know, two overloaded rolling suitcases full of pottery do not roll in the snow.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Plip. Plip. Plip.

My studio is in an ancient mill in NH. We share our building with a large cast of characters, and along with them, the sounds of their daily activity. Right now, the people in the abutting unit are using some high velocity air gadget. Fluffy piles of stuff indeterminate filters under the fire door. We have to vacuum it daily. Cut that shit out. In the basement room beneath my kiln room, the boiler is howling away. I've seen it. It looks and sounds like a locomotive and reminds me of my college days in the Boston subway. When it's howling, we have heat. Heat in NH is good.

The guys across the hall are dragging pallet after pallet out to the loading dock. When I'm on the phone, I have to ask whoever I'm speaking with to repeat themselves. The freight elevator lies directly off of my shipping area. It's quiet now but last week, we heard its occupants discussing Nicole's boobs.

So, with all of this activity going on all around us, you'd think I wouldn't hear the steady plip of water dripping from the ceiling: Into a bowl in front of the printer. Into three storage bins lined up across the cushions of the couch. Into a bucket at the end of my design table. Into a trash can next to the sink. Onto the counter top and across the floor near the refrigerator. Into a bowl on the other counter. Onto the floor in the shipping area.

In a minute, I'll pick up the phone and call the property manager. Like I have almost every day since we moved in last month. He will answer in his usual Oh My F.ing Word, Get Over It voice. Send someone up to the roof (or not) to shovel off the snow that will keep fricken falling because it's winter and we live in NH

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Handmade Showcase

Handmade Showcase is hosting a giveaway featuring my Christine Adolph inspired Forever Love plate. Go there. Now.

I'm Not Dead Yet.

I know. It's been two weeks. It's not that I haven't thought of you. I have. The knowledge that you're out there, waiting for my next post is a lot like sharing a summer night with a mosquito.

My silence is not due to a lack of material. I've amassed a wealth of brilliant ideas for posts. The problem is that I have no time to write them. Next weekend, I head to NY for a week - big gift show. I've had three months in which to prepare for this show. When did I start? This past Monday. I should be releasing a dozen new pieces. The grand total - three. Four if the stuff in the kiln is not a total bust.

I'll be back soon with an Atlanta update. Then I'll show you all pics of my new studio. Then, I'll introduce you to my awesome staff. Then, I'll tell you all about New York, where I plan to have at least one meal with the Wicked Famous Lorrie Veasey.

Stay with me, people. I'll be back.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

What Not To Wear

This weekend, I fly to Atlanta. For work. This means I will have to dress myself in something other than my standard work uniform. Getting dressed for my real life looks something like this: 1. step into the same pair of fat jeans that I wear every day because absolutely under no circumstance will I commit to a larger size. 2. slip on which ever long sleeved top features the least amount of cat hair.

So, I'm talking with Ireland, telling him about the trip, where I'll stay, meeting times and locations. "What are you going to wear?" he asks. What I wear is of paramount importance to Ireland. According to him, his tutelage over these last 18 months is the only reason people don't point at me on the street. Transforming me from a slut-muffin and into a wholesome, fresh-faced Irish lass is one of his primary goals in life. Because when I look good, he looks good. Oh Yeah.

So when he asks "what are you going to wear," he doesn't just ask the question, he dissertates - while looking over the top of his glasses. It's what I call his Father Time Look. He uses it when he's about to impart some wisdom he's certain I'll be too unsophisticated to appreciate. "Oh, I don't know," I respond. "Probably nice jeans and a top. Maybe a jacket."

He closes his eyes. Shakes his head. Sighs. "Ye can't wear fookin' jeans to a business meeting!" He is clearly distressed. Have I learned nothing from him? Really, I counter. What then, should I wear? A nice skirt, he replies. With a blouse. Oh, My Fricken Word. A blouse. I've seen the "blouse" he has in mind. It actually has cap sleeves and ruffles. I pause. Humor him. Shall I wear pearls, I ask. He considers this for a moment. T'would be nice, he responds. I roll my eyes. OMG. I'm an artist, I remind him. We don't wear ruffled shirts and pearls anywhere, for ANYTHING.

He's still wearing The Look. Once again, I've revealed myself as a classless & hopeless shrew in dire need of taming. Even white trash such as myself knows that no outfit is complete without proper footware. And on my feet, I ask? What shall I wear on my feet? A nice pair of heels, he counters. Perfect. You'll recognize me as the artist from New Hampshire teetering around the streets of Atlanta in heels and pearls. And lest we forget, a ruffled blouse.

I'll drive myself to the airport. I have no fricken idea what I'll be wearing. But I promise you, there will be no pearls. Or ruffles.