While the pandemic has raged, my so-called life as a potter has become a difficult balancing act. For example, I threw two mugs and a bonsai pot almost a month ago – a whole month ago! The bonsai pot, I trimmed the next day, according to a Facebook entry I posted on May 6. The mugs, however, I wrapped in plastic to slow the drying process, because I knew it would be a while before I would get to them.
That weekend, Saturday, May 8, I participated in my first raku firing of the year. I fired three of five Warrior Goddesses. Those were spoken for (also referred to as “sold” – hooray!). Two were not quite dry enough for me to comfortably bisque. One fractured during the firing. Another, I may refire to correct a small glaze issue.
I finally pulled a couple of handles last Sunday, May 30, and left them to set up as I trimmed the mugs. I gently blasted them a couple of times with my blowtorch and then, after a couple of hours, I attached them to the mugs. They’re still covered in plastic so they don’t dry unevenly, which could cause the handles to break off.
My point is, I haven’t been able to make much, but I’m not making nothin’. And I had the very best intentions.
See, I’d been looking forward to taking my wobbly Shimpo Aspire to the out of doors to set up a little throwing station on the back deck. I wanted to make pots in the cool morning hours, waiting for the sun to rise and warm things up. I imagined myself listening to the birds chirping or popping in my earbuds to tune into a podcast (I’ve an endless lineup of faves: My Favorite Murder, It Was Said, Milk Street Radio, Blindspot, This Podcast Will Kill You, The Moth, This American Life, Serial) or sing along to my songs on my playlists.
Like most mornings, on that particular Sunday, I woke up before the rest of the household, and descended the staircase to do whatever I wanted. I stepped outside – temperature check – then strolled around the grounds to check my trees – cherry, lilac, fig, peach, magnolia – and the garden – parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. The peonies were budding. My peach tree had four fuzzy little peaches emerging. The hellebore has another transplant about 10 feet away near my hydrangeas, so eventually there’ll be two baby hellebore plants, along with the big mamma-jamma original.
Satisfied with all mine eyes adored, I went back inside, made a hot cup of tea, and started to whip up some potato salad and rice (special requests from family members) for the next day – Memorial Day. Sachi and Harry were coming for dinner. Harry wanted Spam Musubi, and Sachi wanted rice balls and potato salad. I put the potatoes on the burner, and as they simmered, I washed the rice. I was excited about making a Japanese picnic for the family. I was excited about getting outside with my wheel, daydreaming about all the pots I’d make. As I rushed to drain the rice in a colander, I forgot that I’d left my Shun chef’s knife on the dish basin to sharpen after soaking the whetting stone. The pinkie on my right hand moved across the blade, and I felt the bite of the blade as it cut into my finger – deepest at the top of my finger. I couldn’t stop the bleeding, but did’t want to get stitches. Dane took a look and insisted. Because the bleeding wouldn’t stop, I sighed, reluctantly agreeing to have it looked at by someone who might actually know how to stop the blood flow.
The physician’s assistant tied a makeshift tourniquet around the base of my pinkie. She prepared a syringe of lidocaine, in case the bleeding didn’t stop. When it did, she glued the cut flap to cover the wound and added a tiny steri-strip across the cutline. Honestly, I didn’t care about a thing she said except, “You’re going to want to keep it dry – out of water – and don’t let it get dirty.”
“So,” I asked, with a lump in my throat, “That means I can’t do pottery, I suppose?” I already knew the answer.
The PA looked at me apologetically and said, “You won’t want to do that, no.”
“How long before I can?” I asked.
“The longer the better. At least five days, but it’ll take about 10 days to two weeks to heal.”
Monday morning – Memorial Day – I rolled out of bed around 6 a.m. I made a hot cup of tea, went outside for a temperature check, strolled around the grounds and checked on all the trees and plants in the garden. I got in my car and drove to Whole Foods, loaded up on berries, went home and proceeded to can 9.5 pints of delicious Strawberry-Vanilla Jam and 5 pints of phenomenal Berry Jam (blueberry, raspberry, blackberry and gooseberry). Then I made Harry his Spam Musubi, and I made a stuffed eggplant for J-Dawg. Dane fired up the grill, threw on some New York strip steaks for the carnivores and Not Dogs for the vegetarians. We all sat down for conversation and dinner.
It was 10 p.m. when I finally made it to bed. I was exhausted. My feet and shoulders ached, but my heart sang. I smiled as I drifted off to sleep, thinking to myself, you can’t keep a good woman down.
“Old. Old is relative, girl. No, what makes them special is that they are books from history.” – Hannah Crow
Update – June 8, 2021: Ten days after my injury, my finger is healing nicely. There’s still a tiny speck on the tip of my finger that is exposed – where the gash was deepest. I won’t risk tearing it open with grog from clay, nor do I want to introduce any bacteria. My urgent care PA was spot on, though: ten days to two weeks to fully heal. Maybe this weekend, I’ll be able to throw again.