Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mid-Winter Celebration, an Update, and the Weather!

Firstly I would like to let you know that the Stuart Street Potter's Co-operative in Dunedin is having a Mid-Winter celebration at the gallery in Lower Stuart Street, with the opening this coming Saturday.  Everyone is invited to come to the opening and hot soup is on the menu! The weather forecast is not very good for the next few days in this part of the country, so a warm bowl of soup to banish the cold will be very welcome! Unfortunately I won't be able to be there in person, but a good number of the Stuart Street potters will be there, and the food and company is always very good at these events!  And, of course, there will be lots of lovely pottery for you to marvel at and buy!!

Secondly, for those of you who seemed interested last time I put a photograph of a Black Swan on the blog, here is a juvenile Black Swan. I took the photo a few days ago at the Lagoon that is near where we live. The dear thing seems uncertain as to what colour it will end up, but the head and top of the neck are getting the right idea!

The day that I took the photo of the swan was a grand one for taking photographs. The sky was rather like the sort we get when there is a North Westerly wind blowing, but the air was quite still, and the water mirrored the grey clouds in a really fine manner.

On another occasion, when I ventured out, the sky was more threatening, but the spectacle of the sun trying to push its way through the thick winter sky was wonderful.

The v shaped wake of passing ducks reminded me of the vapour trails of high-flying jet aircraft.

The Update...
In the middle of April, I did something nasty to my lower back whilst loading kilns. It was a very busy time with exhibition deadlines to meet, and shelves to stock, and I worked silly hours of the day and night, and paid the price.

I have not been able to work at my potting since then, and I have probably quite a long time ahead of me before I can go back to it.

I cannot really emphasise enough how completely my life has been changed by the injury. I was working up to 70 hours a week before it happened, and now my studio is out of bounds. I have found it rather hard to face up to this fact, especially on the days when I wake up feeling fairly good.

The reality is that it takes very little to make me decidedly uncomfortable. I cannot sit in a chair for very long, and for a few weeks I could not even do that simple thing. Now that sitting is possible, I can drive a short way, and this has been a wonderful step, as I can now get to the next village, 12 km away when I have to. This I have managed twice so far, once to see the dentist, and the other time for a physiotherapy appointment.

Some days I can walk half a kilometre without discomfort, other days I am in trouble within a few metres. On really good days I get further, as is evidenced by the photos of the lagoon.

I feel rather foolish writing all this, but I thought that I had better put the record straight.

I have confidence that I will get better one day, but it will be an "adventure" getting to that point.

I was tempted to close the blog, as I did not want it to descend into a rather miserable account of backs and bodily functions. 

I will endeavour to keep the blog going, but you may have to put up with photographs of the weather and, more frightening, the occasional story or poem!  I probably won't say much about the back. It will be a quiet little battle within these four walls that I will fight standing up and lying flat on the floor.

The Weather!
It is traditional for the English to have a cup of tea and talk about the weather, so I thought I would round this post off with a mention of the rain that we have just had!

Earlier in the week the main road South of our village was cut off by flood water, and some houses in the village got very damp indeed!

Our friends, Mark and Rhonda, took some photos and I have included some of them here.

A house threatened by flood water in Beach Street Waikouaiti.

Water doesn't keep out of a shut gate!

The Waikouaiti River, just South of the village, looking considerably wider than usual.
I am writing this on Wednesday, and there is light rain falling outside. The forecast is for snow to low levels overnight and for the next two days. The next photos I post may well be of a white winter landscape!


Armelle Léon said...

Bonjour Peter,
Que d'eau, que d'eau !!! Thank you so much for the beautiful photos, you have got the art of composition and "clair-obscur", they could be as nice drawings for beautiful paintings.
The juvenile black swan is really colorful, amazing.
My best wishes to you, hope your health will be better and better, wish you lot of sales for this pottery event.

Peter said...

Bonsoir Armelle,
Very nice to hear from you, thank you for your encouragement.

"S'asseoir tous deux au bord d'un flot qui passe,
Le voir passer ;
Tous deux, s'il glisse un nuage en l'espace,
Le voir glisser" ( René-François Sully-Prudhomme (1839-1907) , "Au bord de l'eau")

I found this on the internet, whilst making sure that I understood "Que d'eau, que d'eau" :), and some of this lovely poem seems to capture the spirit of my walk beside the water.

I am thinking about painting again. It has been good for me to spend time being still and looking and taking photographs.

It is a wild winter's night outside as I write. Currently about 3 degrees C and raining. Snow later I think!

Best Wishes from us all, Little NS is licking my hand as I write this! P

Arkansas Patti said...

Aw Peter I am so sorry you are still struggling. I do hope you find a solution for your back problems. That is such a sensitive part of the body.
Your pictures are awesome. Your talent lies not only in clay.

smartcat said...

Thanks for the update. I hope you will keep the blog even if you can't post as often as you did. Those are amazing photos of the clouds and their reflections..... and now I know where black swans come from.
Hobbits, wizards, black swans.....New Zealand must be a place of great magic!
Rain is everywhere these days....we've had so much that our dug well flooded.
Drinking tea or coffee and complaining about the weather is an old Swamp Yankee tradition.

Peter said...

Hi Patti,
Good to hear from you. I think the back will come right, it will just take time. I'll keep on taking photos, it is fun really, and we have some snow outside today and a gale blowing, so nature is putting on a new display!

Hi Smartcat,
I love it that the "Old Swamp Yankee tradition" of complaining about the weather extends to "tea or coffee" as a lubricant... that would suit me much better than tea only!

The black swans we have here these days are probably all from Australia, I think they were introduced here in 1863 if what I have read is correct. Apparently we had a similar New Zealand black swan before that, but it was hunted to extinction as many of our fine birds were. However, what we have now is a great joy to see, and they make a fine sight flying in formation over the lagoon before alighting there.
Of course, we have always had Hobbits..., but that is another story!!

Melissa Rohrer said...

I'm enjoying the landscape pictures, especially the sky reflecting in the water.
Sorry the recovery is so slow. I've never had a problem so severe with my back, though I've had to take a few weeks off now and then- until I figured out I needed to raise my wheel to throw standing! Sometimes cause and effect takes awhile with me.

Amy said...

Peter- gosh, I wish your back was better! Thanks for the post. Please don't consider closing the blog- then we won't know how you're doing and we all can't keep in touch! I hope you'll give us periodic updates every now and then to let us know how you're healing. The weather pictures and all are lovely! I so hope you'll continue to blog! good wishes and thoughts coming your way.

Peter said...

Hi Melissa,
Glad that you are enjoying the pictures.
I think that you are clever to have raised your wheel to sort out the back problem that you were having... some of us fail to do anything at all! I know that I need to do something about the lid on my toploading kiln when I get back to potting again.

Hi Amy,
Thank you for your sympathy and encouragement, it is good to hear from you. I'll keep on with the blog, and it is a nice to be able to keep in touch with you all.

srgb said...

Hi Peter
Ho so sorry to hear about the back problems and I know you said you wouldn't want to post about it, but my heart goes out to you as it is so disabling both in body and spirit when you can't work out what to do for the best, and no doubt there is lots of advise if only it would work for you.
Well peter all I want to say is my thoughts are with you.

Rhonda said...

Peter, do keep on with the blog, your photography is wonderful. Maybe your photos will inspire you to return to painting.All the best, Rhonda.

Angie said...

Dont you dare give up your blog ....I know it is meant to be a potters record but then mine was meant to be sort of a paper crafters one but then I started to have mixed crafty creativness and then mojo went walkabout altogether. Mine is now visits,family and cooking mainly but I still enjoy doing it and reading all the ones of my blog frieds ...including you matter what the please keep blogging.
Secondly ...I an so sorry your back is so bad ...what did you do ...was it a ruptured disc????...what will happen to your pottery if you have to stop.??????
Lastly ...those photos are gorgeous stunning ...they would make wonderful postcards there is a thought for an extra career.
I think we have had our summer as we have actually had about 2 weeks with barely any rain.
Take Care of yourself dear blog friend. xx

Peter said...

Hello Bob,
Thank you so much for getting in touch, and for your kindness. Really lovely to hear from you.

You are right about the "disabling of body and spirit", with these injuries "when you can't work out what to do for the best". Happily I passed the very painful stage of the injury some weeks ago, but I am probably more "up and down" in outlook now that I am partially recovered, as there are times when I can anticipate the joys of jumping out of bed and doing a full day of work, but then find some simple task gives me a reminder that there is still some way to go!

Regarding treatment, I have been steered in the direction of the McKenzie method of treating backs, and this is what our local Physio uses.

Hello Rhonda,
Fear not, blog and photos will still keep on going. Thank you for your photos that I have put on this to cover the flooding.. you are now world famous!! :)

Hello Angie,
Thank you for your "Don't you dare....", and your kind sentiments. I'll keep on with blog, and I am very fond of my blog friends. And how very real blog friends can be! (I have never "liked" Facebook!!). I often think that it would be great to have blog voices! Just a little clip of the person talking from time to time would be so nice.

Regarding the back.., I did something to a disk low down in the spine. It is the one that presses on the sciatic nerve when things go wrong with it. Because of this, after the first couple of weeks, most of the pain has been in my hip, thigh,and calf -right down to the foot- of my left leg, and, when things were at their worst, I was also troubled with the foot having pins and needles and feeling like a lump of wood, with the normal reflexes gone.

Happily, things are greatly improved now, I have a lot of time pain free, but care is still needed.

Regarding photos... Lots more to come I am sure, and I will investigate doing local postcards and calendars.

Anyway xxxs to you too! P :)

Sue said...

Hi Peter,
So sorry about your painful back, but I'm glad you're continuing the blog. You have many friends who make lovely comments here and would miss you terribly if you disappeared.
It's great you can manage to do some painting. I look forward to seeing those on your blog.
I hope your back keeps on mending itself.

Peter said...

Hello Sue,
Good to hear from you, I hope you are not all snowed in up your way. A wild and windy night here tonight by the sound of things! Had quite a good day today, so am pleased. I'll try not to dissappear, it would take a lot to make me fade away!!!
Best Wishes, P xx

Christine said...

I have only just read about your back problem Peter. I am so sorry. It is the potter's nightmare scenario, along with losing fingers, (which Positive though no One, you still have). I really hope things continue to improve, it will be a lesson in patience. It is sobering to think how we so easily take our bodies for granted -70 hour hefty weeks eh! There is a lesson in that. Do continue to blog. Your photographs are beautiful and you always write so well. Best wishes for your convalescence.

Peter said...

Hi Christine,
Thank you for your kind words, it is good to hear from you. I am making progress, but haven't been back potting as yet. It certainly is a lesson in patience, and actually harder now than when things were at their worst! It is good to take the photos, and an exciting time of the year with the dramatic lighting and clouds. Hope to get some good snow photos soon.

Linda Starr said...

Oh Peter my heart goes out to you as I know only too well how health problems can be so depressing and debilitating. As you probably recall my back was so bad when I was in California, then I had my other health related troubles in Florida which even now recur occasionally. It has been a long and steep road to walk. I make sure to have a good firm mattress, a good chair, and good shoes with arch support all of which contribute greatly to keeping my back from acting up. I'm very careful not to pick up anything really heavy even now. Also I sleep with a pillow between my knees which seems to keep my spine aligned. If I feel my back getting even the slightest bit tight or weak I immediately lie down on my stomach flat on a bed and relax my back muscles. All of these things seem to have helped my back remain ok. Oh and I almost forgot my cane and some days I needed two canes. I also don't walk on hard surfaces for too long periods of time even to this day.

Your photographs are so beautiful the mood somber and yet calming. when I was a child I dreamed of having a home with a pond and two black swan to swim, to glide over the water. There would be a small island in the middle for them to take refuge. I just remembered that seeing your lovely photo.

Perhaps you can sit and make some hand built pieces in clay when you feel up to it. You know that's the only way I make anything in clay and it's worked out for me. Of course I don't come from the throwing background so the sitting and working with clay was a bit easier transition from sorely missing working in the gardens I had. It is hard to set aside what we truly love and have a passion to do but writing on my blog has also helped me along the way. I'll be thinking of you in your recovery. It all seems to take so long but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I hope some new doors can be opened for you. Hugs to you Peter.

Peter said...

Hi Linda,
Thank you so much for your thoughtful words that do give real encouragement at the end of what has been a bit of a difficult day! I sometimes lose sight of the 'light at the end of the tunnel', but really good to be reminded of it. I do remember very well you battling with your back, and I do think of that sometimes when I am fighting my own battle here. It is lovely to see how creative you have managed to be in spite of the difficulties that you go through, and that is inspiring for me.
So, thank you again for your kind words that arrived just when they were needed, and hugs from us to you.