Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Finding Words

Something that I have started doing in the last year is writing poetry. I was struggling with a novel (my usual state) and decided to take a step back, to find some way of freeing up my thoughts and language. I've only written one poem in my life, in sonnet form. If you like you can search it out here in the deep recesses of my blog.

Since then, I've written a few prose poems. I'm freeing up, with the encouragement and amazingly insightful critiques of my writing group. Oh yes, I joined one of those too, and they are really special people, for whom eating and drinking is as important as writing and sharing. My kind of people.

Well, my poetry is for them right now. So here I'd like to share a poem by a true master, Pablo Neruda, inspired by my other passion, pottery. The English translation comes after the original Spanish.


Todo tu cuerpo tiene
copa o dulzura destinada a mi.

Cuando subo la mano
encuentro en cada sitio una paloma
que me buscaba, como
si te hubieran, amor, hecho de arcilla
para mis propias manos de alfarero.

Tus rodillas. tus senos,
tu cintura
faltan en mi como en el hueco
de una tierra sedienta
de la que desprendieron
una forma,
y juntos
somos completos como un solo rio,
como una sola arena.The Potter



Your whole body has
a fullness or a gentleness destined for me.

When I move my hand up
I find in each place a dove
that was seeking me, as
if they had, love, made you of clay
for my own potter's hands.

Your knees, your breasts,
your waist
are missing parts of me like the hollow
of a thirsty earth
from which they broke off
a form,
and together
we are complete like a single river,
like a single grain of sand.

Monday, August 29, 2016

RIP, Wonderful Wilder

I just read that Gene Wilder passed away today. He was 83, older than I expected. For some reason I always supposed he wasn't much older than me, probably because the work of his I've mostly seen was from the 70s and 80s. I have the impression in later life, before he was assailed by Alzheimers, that he enjoyed a lovely retirement, playing the tennis he loved and visiting France or other favourite countries. Most of what I knew about this wonderful actor was through his late wife Gilda Radner's autobiography, It's Always Something (a line she used to great effect with her SNL character Roseanne Rosanneadanna, and a favourite line of mine). Anyway, in this memoir Gilda relates her battle with cancer, one she ultimately lost. She describes her initial attraction to Wilder, finding him funny, smart, athletic and handsome.

Yes, all those things. Those stunning blue eyes, that crazy hair. And the on-screen persona that veered between tender sweetness and barely contained hysteria that I found so irresistible.

According to his nephew's statement, Wilder didn't suffer the worst kind of Alzheimer's, but still he chose to keep his illness private, not wanting to deny his fans the memory of him at his best.

I loved The Silver Streak, and the not-so-well-known The Frisco Kid (with a very young Harrison Ford). One of my favourite films of all time is Young Frankenstein. It's beautifully filmed in black and white, wonderfully funny, with Wilder often playing his role quite straight, while the rest of the cast belongs on the vaudeville stage. What a contrast - thanks Mel Brooks!

I only saw The Producers a few years ago, well after discovering Young Frankenstein. One rather sexy afternoon, I watched it in bed with the man who introduced me to the film. Laughter is the best aphrodisiac. And Zero Mostel and Wilder were just... perfect.

There will have to be a tribute evening this coming Labour Day Weekend. I've got some delicious brisket from Montreal, a gift from some good friends. I think we'll steam that up and toast the wonderful Mr. Wilder.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Let's Start the Catching up, Shall we?

My first instinct was to type, "How has it been two years since my last post?" But it feels at least that long. Life is short, but wide, and I've been living pretty widely. Pun intended.

I've missed blogging, so I might do a bit more of it. What have I been doing in the meantime? Lots of work, play, idleness, friendship, love, travel, food, books (I'm reading again!), gratitude, walking, tree-hugging, and working out (with an actual trainer!).

I tried things I always wanted to do as well. And one in particular really stuck: pottery. I've always loved holding and using one-of-a kind pieces, so it was with some excitement that I took a throwing class a year and a bit ago.

That very first class was telling. By the end of it I could prepare the clay and centre it on the wheel. That's about it. I could not make a decent shape for anything, although some of the people around me were already shaping cylinders. But I was already hooked: the smell and feel of the clay is so sensual. The dipping of the hands in the water, and the wonderful combination of strength and gentleness you need is constantly intriguing, and the pressure you need to do it changes so suddenly, but the moves have to be sinuous. I love the total focus, the sense of play, the primal quality of clay and the turning it into useful object. I love the MESS. What can I say - it's just one of the best feelings in the world.

The first few sessions I used the glazes that were available to us in the class. These were some of the results, most of which have gone on to be gifts. There were quite a few garlic pots made, and all the mugs had multiples too. They were small... kind of cute, best for coffee (shown) or hot chocolate.

I then made a sizable batch of large mugs in time for Christmas, but, as I had been well warned by my excellent teacher, "Don't get attached to anything." They didn't work out. *Full body shiver* and were all pitched. OUCH.

Onwards and upwards.

I purchased my own glazes and started testing combinations. I have so many of these little test tombstones now and I have them all in a row on a windowsill in my study, kind of like... an art installation! Yeah - that's it! Heh heh.

From those results came the latest batch. The bluey green is very pleasing and I'll be doing a range of pieces with this glaze combination.

I'm also trying some gesture sketching that then gets glazed over clear. The first experiment went well so now I want to do a range of those pieces.

The best part is, if I need a certain vessel, I can make it myself. I needed a second utensil holder by the oven, so there it is, and it compliments the original green Emile Henry one well.

So there you have it... my new pash!