29 June 2008

What a difference a car makes

Things here have been a bit more active than usual. The mere existence of a second car around the MysticSpiral homestead has Sprout in a frenzy of "What will we do next?!?!" That said, the fact that we have the option to leave whenever we wish has her a little more content to linger around the house playing in nothing but her underwear. (What is it about young children that prompts them to be nudists?) We are planning to enroll Sprout in preschool in the fall, but may put her into preschool day camp for a couple of weeks in July and/or August to start getting her used to the idea. We have been taking a break from swim lessons because it was just too hard to work out the schedule for 4-day-a-week swim lessons with just one car.

But it's not just about Sprout's activities and options. I also have a chance now to do things that I felt I couldn't when we were a single car family. I'm indulging some activist impulses that were dishearteningly problematic as a single car family when K's schedule can sometimes change with no notice. I'm also getting back to water aerobics and, hopefully starting this week, middle-eastern dance.

I worked some on the promised finger puppet tutorial while I was in Cincinnati. I've got pictures on the data card on my camera. I've got notes for the actual text handwritten in the spiral bound notebook that I usually take with me everywhere. Most of the notes were written sitting in the car in the driveway the day we bought Rosie. (I had foolishly neglected to check whether I had my complete key ring and instead only had the ring with the Y keyfobs and the locker key. I got to spend a couple hours hanging out in the car getting to know her since I was locked out of the house.) Unfortunately, I'm experiencing computer problems and at the moment my system lacks image editing software or any kind of word processing program. I could probably write the tutorial up in WordPad, if I had to, but I'd rather not.

I have an appointment with my prescribing psychiatrist in just over a week to discuss the addition we made to my meds last month. All in all, I'd have to say that the change has been positive. I feel much more engaged in my own life now than I have in quite a while. Since I mentioned activism earlier, I feel the need to mention something that touches on both my need to promote the causes nearest to me and my own illness.

Like it or not, there is a stigma associated with depression. One part of the reason that I have chosen to be so candid here about my mental health issues. Depression is an illness. It is not a defect. It is not something to be ashamed of. That said, there are many people who refuse treatment for their depression because the cannot see beyond the stigma of mental illness. "What if my employer / landlord / parents / children / competitors / etc find out?!?" This is one of the reasons that the Kristin Brooks Hope Center and its national 1-800-SUICIDE hotline are so important. As an privately funded service, they are not required to report, or even collect, any personal information on anyone who calls. They rely on the support and donations of people just like us to keep providing confidential services to those who need them.

20 June 2008

Here Be Dragons

It's after 1:30am and I am leaving early tomorrow for a weekend away from Sprout and her daddy conference in Cincinnati. I'm not actually doing anything, just hanging out with a dear friend who doesn't need my moral support but is willing to accept it anyway so that I can have a sort of mini-break. I'm taking stuff to take some pictures and all of the finished finger puppets that I can find. I've got felting stuff, and notes for the tutorial. I'll have a computer with me. (I won't have photo editing software, but I'll deal with all that when I get home...)

Here's a quick picture of a tiny dragon finger puppet. I could line all of the finished puppets up for you and Sprout could tell you the names of each and every one. She's quick to name things, that one... She seems to embrace the idea that what you name, you own.

Speaking of names... There is a new, albeit inanimate, member of our family. We acquired a 1993 Chevy Cavalier this week. My daughter, the animist, wanted to name it before it was even officially a part of the household. I managed to hold her off and then "met" the car in a dream dressed as a 1940s factory worker. Her words to me, "I may not be beautiful, but if there's a job to do, I'll get it done." inspired me to name her Rosie. Sprout approves so, Rosie it is. Now all I need is some sort of Rosie the Riveter sticker or other decoration to plaster all over the car. She's right, though, she's not beautiful and I think that she'd find the decoration somewhat reassuring. I'll talk later about what this new addition really means. 'Til then, I'm off to bed.

17 June 2008


In the past, I have avoided discussions of politics as much as possible. Since politics touch on many of the things that are important to me, this has often required a Herculean effort. The people who talk to me regularly are used to hearing about my thoughts on everything from the state of public education and the inherently unequal way that schools in Ohio are funded, to electoral reform or the racial inequities of the justice system.

It may not come as much of a surprise to anyone that I fall on the liberal side of most (ok, maybe all) of the issues which come up in politics.

It is for that reason that I wanted to mention that I've been writing a little bit on a blog on the Obama website. I'm not going to say much about it and will resume my efforts to keep politics off this blog.

So, I'm working on a series of needle felted finger puppets. So far, I'm pleased with the results and will be posting sometime in the next few days specifically to show off what I've been doing.

TITLE: Hoyt's A contented woman
CALL NUMBER: POS - TH - 1898 .C66, no. 3 (C size) [P&P]
LC-USZ62-10861 (b&w film copy neg.)

No known restrictions on publication.

1 print (poster) : lithograph, b&w ; 72 x 49 cm.

Cin., U.S.A. : U.S. Printing Co., c1898.

12 June 2008

Another Minute of Fame

Andy Warhol's quip about 15 minutes of fame comes to mind every time I see my name in print. My own 15 minutes seems to take the form of 10 seconds here, a minute and a half there. In November of 1994, I managed to track down and post the portion of the US Armed Forces Military Chaplain's Manual of Religious Requirements and Practices that pertained to the practice of Wicca; Witchcraft. For a number of years, probably until the relevant materials were revised in 2001, I would occasionally run into someone who knew my name in association with that document. I met several people who had used the document to support their religious freedom in custody hearings and anti-discrimination suits and who said that it made a real difference for them. At this point, it takes a bit of digging in a search engine to connect those dots and it's not something that I bring up on a regular basis.

My fame in the field of ceramics is based on a bit more history. Whether it's posts on the CLAYART email list, links to the handbuilding lessons that I wrote and posted on my website, ceramic beadmaking techniques and firing information, the article that I wrote for Pottery Making Illustrated, or the tips that I've submitted to Ceramics Monthly, I have a reasonably high profile.

I'm contacted frequently by people who are interested in using my written materials in one way or another. I've received email from teachers in Europe, South-east Asia, South America and throughout North America asking for permission to use the handbuilding lessons in schools, rehab facilities, prisons, community centers and home school environments. I'm thrilled to know how people will be using these lessons and to know that the material is out there helping people. I almost universally approve the use of the lessons for teaching purposes and have only ever denied someone who wanted to combine them with other materials for sale on a CD-rom.

That article from Pottery Making Illustrated, on the other hand, has been reprinted by the American Ceramic Society in the book Pottery Making Techniques: A Pottery Making Illustrated Handbook and again on their website as part of their Ceramics Daily Feature. These reprints have come as surprises to me and as such I have mixed feelings. I found out about the book because I saw it at NCECA the spring following its publication. I found out about the Ceramics Daily reprint because it popped up in a google alert. (As an artist, I have several search notifiers set up so that I'm notified when new information about me is archived in Google's search database.) Sure, the reprints are good and keeping that information in front of people can only help my name recognition, etc. On the other hand, it would be nice if a publisher were kind enough to contact the authors whose work they were reprinting and let them know what's going on. Afterall, I feel like a complete idiot when someone says, "Congratulations, I saw your ______ on the web." and my response is "Huh?!?! Where? When? Are you sure?"