Monday, July 12, 2010

Winter's Cold, death and beauty

close up of crystals in one of my crystalline glazes

If I should die somewhere in our hallway in the next two months, don't worry about giving me a burial until late September, it is so cold in that part of the house that I would not decompose at all, so don't rush to my funeral, the ground is too hard and a good book, or even television, are more entertaining!

Ice edging pittosporum leaves

We have two warm rooms, the living room where I am now, and the studio, where we spend most of the day, and we have to wear arctic survival gear to venture elsewhere.

Cooking is done in a fug of steam and condensation, we have to fly on instruments in the kitchen when boiling potatoes. It takes a great feat of white knuckle concentration to prepare the evening meal, as pots and pans dodge in and out of the cloud.
"This is Papa Alpha Nevada requesting permission to land on stove. Over." "Papa Alpha Nevada, you are cleared to land, if you don't make positive sighting of stove from 6 inches, go round again, and mind the wall. Good luck and God's Speed. Over." "Papa Alpha Nevada.... I'm..... EEEEk..... " "pull Up pull Up".... Splat! Another dinner is lost in an explosion of potatoes and peas!

At ground level, the cats fantasize moodily about air conditioned apartments with cordon bleu silver service and carpets 6 inches deep.

Like a shadow she followed me as I roamed with the camera this morning.

They plot down there and endeavor to kill us by tripping us up whilst we blunder around the place blinded by cooking fog.

Ginger at full trip!

Don't ever say in a cat's hearing that you will leave your money to the Benevolent Cat's League, or some such worthy charity, your cats could bring this happy state of altruism about faster than you think if they adjudge that your room service and heating is not up to scratch!

The good news is that, by resorting to piling coal on our stove in the studio (and thereby hastening the end of the planet), or by wracking up huge electricity bills (and ensuring our early economic doom), we can make the studio quite nice to work in, and our living room warm enough to thaw in.

It is winter here, believe it or not those of you who are basking in 100 degrees of sunshine, and it is the coldest month of the year. In fact it has been a fairly mild winter up to now, but there was a real bite to the air over the last couple of days, and the frost stayed on the ground all day today in shaded parts.

The good thing about winter is that it can be very beautiful. I took some photos this morning of the frost on the fields.


The pale frost rimed grass made just the right surface for the trees to make blue shadows patterns on.


Every lump and bump of the pasture was sketched in by the light and shade as if drawn there by an obsessive artist with a pencil.

At one point the camera lens fogged over, probably encountering the steam from my breath, and I took a blurry photo of the winter light that was made more poetic by this.


I have been trying to throw some more bottles and vases today, and I did a few breakfast bowls last Friday. Throwing is rather a struggle at the moment, and I am feeling very incompetent. With a musical instrument, such as a violin, enormous amounts of repetition and practice are needed to progress from merely sawing away with the bow and making a ghastly scraping tomcat yowl, to stroking the bow across the strings and making music. Throwing on the wheel is similar. Lots of regular practice is needed, and I have been spending rather too much time over recent weeks glazing pots and catching up with the business book keeping. So...., I need to throw, and to throw, and to throw.

Tomorrow is my day at the Stuart Street Potters Co-op in Dunedin, of which I am a member. There are 12 members of the Co-op, so we each get to do one day at the gallery/shop a fortnight. This can be fun, but it can also drag out terribly on quiet days in Winter. I think that most members have actually fallen asleep at some time on their "watch". I know I have occasionally.

I was wondering how many potters were planning to attend the "Clay and Blogs: Telling a Story" at Campbell House in North Carolina in October? I have some crazy (in money terms) thoughts of trying to get over for it, but would only do so if I was able to meet up with some of you. Got to decide soon. Any advice about travel (which airport to aim for from here) and accommodation would be welcome.

13 comments:

ang said...

hey peter now thats cold!! i thought it was chilly here but your frost takes it!! find a warm space and stay there i say..all the best with those plans for the clay and blogs show then...

cookingwithgas said...

oh my Peter watch out for those sweet kitties who curl up only to steal warmth from you.
Although holding a cat brings warmth if you can get them still long enough.
We are having those 100 degree days here- I wish I could send you some.
Meanwhile watch out for those peas and potatoes!
Aye aye captain!

Linda Starr said...

Oh the crystal with the lavender and blue, how beautiful, but frosty looking. I am surprised the pittosporum makes it in the cold. I guess they are hardier than my memory serves me. We are thinking of going to the event and leaving early to drop off my pots as yet I don't know which, then go to go New Hampshire and then back again for the opening. Gary keeps saying he wants to take the treasure bus, but I am not sure all will be unloaded from it. Now we're thinking of pulling a trailer (RV type) with my car, so we are up in the air about what to do. Would you come over here for the crystal conference then too?

Arkansas Patti said...

As I am still damp from my morning walk(not from any rain but heat), I really enjoyed your winter scenes.
The kitchen does sound a bit harsh though. Sounds like you have it down to a science.
Stay warm.

jim said...

hi peter, i love a post that starts, "If I should die somewhere in our hallway in the next two months". maybe the cold is getting to you and making you giddy, judging by all the fun you were having leaving comments on my blog the other day. beautiful crystal by the way. as far as the clay and blogs show, i have always planned to make the trip although much easier for me than you but i'm reluctant to say that i'm 100% sure that i'll make it. i might take sofia, that would be fun. anyway, if you decided to go, it would be another reason (as if i needed another) for me to attend.

Hannah said...

I was a bit worried there with the first line of that post. It seems like years ago that we were stuck in that endless time of never getting above freezing here. Today it;s sunny and warm and lovely.
Keep that fire cranked up and stay warm.h

Christine H S said...

It's so hard to imagine such cold when it is balmy and warm here, but your photos take me back to last winter when I had to resort to the banding wheel warmer again. (Seriously, our son crocheted it for me when he was at primary school). The throwing should start to flow when you can feel your fingers again I expect. But try not to die in the hallway just yet. you would be sorely missed.

doug Fitch said...

Lovely pictures Peter. Got Jeff coming over tomorrow to glaze his chickens

Angie said...

How quickley we forget a time before central heating ...and even gas fires. Oh how I remember dashing between the warmer rooms in Mums old victorian house when I was a child. There was a coal fire in the sitting room and the kichen ...bottles were filled for the beds in the icy bedrooms...the stone ones made such a noise if they were pushed out of bed during the night but I cuddled the rubber one ...wrapped in a towel ... under numerous blankets and a plump eiderdown. The coldest rooms were the black and white bathroom with its high ceiling and toilet next to it ...how I hated to have to make a visit to either but I have to be honest and say the halls were the worst and we really did run between rooms and then sit so close to the fires that out legs became mottled and red ...my heart goes out to you ...I remember it well.xx

Armelle said...

Oh la la, yes Peter, you would be sorely missed, so dont !!!
Beautiful photos of blues crystals and shadows. Hope you will be able to go to the "Clay and Blogs: Telling a Story", and hope october will not be too cold in NC !!!
Here too, we had 100 ° F, it's raining since two days, good for the corn for cows, corn dont grow.

Warm regards to P L G and NS

Peter said...

Hi Ang,
A friend of mine who lives up the top end of Australia was shivering slightly in their chilly 19 degrees Centigrade winter nights! I guess the cold is relative. A polar bear, for instance, might be uncomfortably warm in our hallway. I comfort myself with these thoughts!!

Hi Meredith,
Send 100 degrees F right away! I'll definitely be on my guard around cats and fallen peas!

Hi Linda,
I keep wobbling between the shall I go, shall I stay thing, and the Florida crystalline glaze exhibition option makes an extra confusing waves in the pond!

I would really love to meet people that I have been blogging with and see pots. I would meet more of you in NC than in Florida, and see your pots too, and it is really good news to read that you and Gary will be coming up for the show (and I see that Jim is thinking seriously about attending it too).There is also something very, very special about the Clay and Blogs show too, and I would hate to miss it really.

When I was in town yesterday I visited a travel agent and got some idea of travel costs to NC. Certainly seems within the realms of the possible for one of us to come over. Still a lot to arrange though.

Hi Patti,
It is actually a nice day outside today, now that the black ice has cleared off the road.... Sun's up, and there is some warmth in it. Maybe I should go outside and make the most of it!

Hi Jim,
You would be one of the people I would really love to see if I came over, so it would be wonderful if you did manage to come up. I think Sofia would be a huge star amongst the blogging fraternity!

Hello Hannah,
I remember your winter posts. You sounded like you were surrounded by creaking stacks of frozen clay. I loved your snow photos too, with tracks and footprints. We could do with some snow, to make the cold worthwhile. We have been so close to it at times, but it has kept missing us!

Hello Christine,
I might have to avoid the hallway altogether, and use the front door, or a window lest I tempt fate too far! A banding wheel warmer, what a great idea for potters in chilly places. When I actually do feel my fingers again I should follow your son's fine example and take up crochet! I might branch out into home made dreadlocks as well!

Hello Doug,
Happy Chicken glazing to you and Jeff!

Hello Angie,
I really enjoyed reading your comment, it was a real gem. I loved the little pictures that you painted in it, such as the noise that a stone bed warmer would make when falling to the floor (I'd never thought of that before), and legs "mottled and red" in front of the fire; you would not think of those things unless you had lived through them. What treasures such images are, they give flesh and feeling to history.
I really enjoy reading Laurie Lee. I haven't read Cider with Rosie for ages, but I have vivid pictures from that book still in my mind, similar to the one's I'll now have of the thump of a stone bed warmer disturbing the household, or sitting too close to the fire with legs all mottled and red.

Bonjour Armelle,
Je promets de faire attention!
le soleil est brillant aujourd'hui, yippeee!

Il merci de votre commentaire, il est toujours si bon avoir de vos nouvelles.

Salutations de deux chats, de Laura, et de moi!

Tracey Broome said...

Hi Peter, just back form the very warm east coast 90 degrees, sunny skies, sorry! If you come to the blog show, you could fly in to Raleigh/Durham airport in Raleigh NC, I live nearby and could pick you up and take you to the show which would be about an hour or two away. I wish I could offer lodging to everyone that's coming, but we have a tiny house, barely room for the three of us! Let me know, would be happy to get you to the show!!

Peter said...

Hi Tracey,
That is really kind of you. I'm still at the nightmarish stage of trying to sort out accommodation and bus or vehicle hire options. It would be so nice to meet up. I will certainly keep in touch and let you know how plans are evolving.
Best Wishes, P.