Feb 25, 2015

More sweets

Here are few photos of sweets made by students.  I am especially charmed by the little green frog.

From SweetPersimmon

Feb 14, 2015

Anagama Kiln Firing

We are fortunate to have a generous and creative community of potters in Portland.  In March, a friend of mine, Richard Brandt, has invited us to see the loading, firing, and unloading of an Anagama wood fire kiln of the class he is teaching at Mt. Hood Community College. It is a marvelous opportunity to witness an actual firing to get a sense of the hard work, materials and the community of people that it takes to fire a kiln such as this. Then we also have an opportunity to come back to experience the excitement, surprises and raw beauty of the opening of the kiln.

It takes 3 days to load the kiln, seeing the way each piece looks before the firing and to get a sense of the transformation that each piece goes through. You'll also see the delicate considered placement of each object as they are fit closely together to direct the flame tumbling through the stacks of ware. There will be 100s of pieces of all shapes and sizes waiting to be loaded for their chance with the wood and flame.

The firing will take place over 5 days, 24 hours a day and night. Monitoring the fire and temperature dictates the amount of wood and timing of feeding the fire. When the kiln is fired all of the senses and communication between the firing crew members are very important.

The kiln is then allowed to cool down for about 6 days and then the seal will be cracked. It takes about an hour to take down the door and clean out the ashes before the first pieces can be taken out. Everyone lines up to pass each piece from hand to hand to reveal the magic of the fire. It is awesome to experience the excitement, surprises and raw beauty of the opening of the kiln.

If you would like to participate in this experience, please contact me for dates, times and address.  Don't miss this experience.

Thank you again to Richard for this wonderful opportunity to see a wood fire kiln in action.

Feb 2, 2015

Devils out, Good luck in!

"Oni wa soto, Fuku wa uchi"

Tomorrow is Setsubun, when you throw out the beans and yell "Oni wa soto, Fuku wa uchi!"  Devils out, Good luck in!  And it is the first day of spring in the lunar calendar.

More here

After you throw the beans, you are supposed to eat the number of beans equal to your age.

Jan 28, 2015

Letting go

"Some people think that holding on is what makes them strong. Sometimes it is letting go."

Last year my father passed away and last weekend his longtime companion passed also. I am still at a loss after caring for my father for 10 years, and getting to know his companion in that time.  They were a quite a couple and now they are gone. I  keep asking myself what more I could have done, but letting go of that, I can return to happier memories.

I recently had to end a relationship. I had not known this person for very long and I thought that she shared my enthusiasms, but I had come to find out that we disagreed quite radically.  I was willing to agree to disagree, but she wanted to convince me that she was right. The language that she used to convince me was quite disrespectful. I stewed for quite a while before confronting this person and she did not take it well. I am sad about letting it go, but in a way I feel unburdened about not having to defend myself every time we communicated.

I am comforted by this Zen scroll:
hanatsu no shizen  "Release this and everything will be of itself so"

This letting go is one of the hardest lessons for me. A lot of the time when we talk about not having desires, it relates to material things: bigger house, nicer car, the newest gadget.  But letting go of desires also means letting go of expectations, of the way things "should" be. 

"Everything will be of itself so"  or What is, is. Looking and accepting what is, rather than being disappointed for what isn't, or what I want it to be.

Let it go, let it go
Can't hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn my back and slam the door
And here I stand, and here I'll stay
Let it go, let it go
The cold never bothered me anyway