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Musings: Life And Lemons


I am totally forcing myself through a dark grey cloud at this moment, making my fingers push across the keys on my laptop.  Unfortunately the weather isn’t helping.  It’s grey and miserable out there and has been since yesterday. 

There’s a voice in my head that belongs to perky Ms. Cheerleader (one of the many “committee members” who inhabit my brain!!), saying over and over, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.  A snarling voice that belongs to another committee member, Mr. Censor, throws back at her, “what if I don’t want to make lemonade!!!”.

If what I am feeling right now is akin to depression I really empathize with those suffering from that disease.  I have cried at least a dozen times since yesterday evening.  I have absolutely no energy or enthusiasm whatsoever.  So what bought this on, you are wondering?  Here goes.

You remember I got stung by a wasp (we’re now thinking possibly a hornet) twelve days ago?  This was Lemon #1, and that story is in a blog I wrote about eight days ago.  Well I was put on antibiotics for that and they have a “depressing” effect on my system.  Not too bad, but I wasn’t my usual happy-go-lucky self.  Had to work at being upbeat. Lemon #2.

Last weekend was a busy, fun filled time: gardening, attending a parish picnic, and riding to St. Augustine on our beloved Harley.  However, by Sunday I noticed that my right index finger was a little tender around the lower and left nail area.  I saw that I had a “hang nail”, dropped a little alcohol on it, and got on with my day.  By Monday morning it was reddish and a little swollen.  So I applied more alcohol and decided if it got worse I would see my doctor.  I did not know that this was Lemon #3 developing.

Serendipity came that evening in the form of my second pottery class.  The three  pieces I had created two weeks prior were nicely dried and ready for glazing.  I already wrote a blog about this on Monday evening.  What I didn’t write in there was that my husband was packing for a business trip that evening and the “gods” were conspiring against him and consequently creating some aggravation and irritation between us – rather like “pre-deployment bitching”.  But that’s a whole other story (and Lemon #4!); I’m just painting background here!

On Tuesday morning The Finger is throbbing.  After having kissed and made up, Richard left for the airport and I left for a cat scan.  It was to be “with contrast” and so entailed the need for an IV.  I am not going into details.  Just accept that my left hand was “butchered” in an attempt to get an IV in – I almost came off the table and I was screaming through clenched teeth!  Lemon #5.

Having got through that trauma, I went and sat in Starbucks for about two hours drinking green tea, breathing, and reading a book.  I had a lunch date with a girlfriend that was the most God-ordered thing that happened to me that day.  Everything about lunch with Sue was totally serendipitous and allowed me to forget The Finger for a while.

As I drove home I became very aware of the increased throbbing in The Finger.  It also looked rather like a small light bulb, glowing red and radiating heat.  I prayed that it would explode so that whatever was going on inside would get outside!  I went straight to my doctor’s office, and he tried very hard for twenty minutes to gently cause the prayed for explosion, but to no avail.

He decided that even though I was already on antibiotics for the sting, I needed something more potent.  After ascertaining that I was headed straight home, he administered a “level three” antibiotic, made sure I had some pain killers, made an appointment to check on it in two days time, and sent me home.  I crawled in the front door just before someone threw a switch and sucked out every ounce of energy and enthusiasm that lived inside my body.  Lemon #6.

For the next twenty four hours I felt like a grey blob.  I cried a lot.  I felt as though someone or something was jut pushing down on me, suppressing any joy that I might feel.  I was grateful that I had lunch scheduled with Kathi next day and that I had a massage on the books that afternoon.  By the time I came out I felt somewhat better – thank you my massage-angel Michael!

I woke on Thursday (yesterday) feeling as though I had been allowed back into my “normal” body, although I was aware that maybe that level three shot had blown my defenses and I was manifesting a yeast infection!  Lemon #7.  However I felt ready for the day and had at least two ideas for articles that I was going to write when I got home after the doctor’s appointment.  But, when he saw my finger Dr. W. wasn’t totally happy and said, yes it was making progress but he wanted to zap me with another level three.  Lemon #8.

I crawled home after my appointment having stopped off to get my yeast infection meds and getting trapped in the store by an ungodly storm.  I felt the energy and enthusiasm draining out of me again, and I crashed for three and a half hours on the couch.  I cried a lot again last night, and some more this morning.  Then I made a command decision: this depression, even though temporary, was not going to have a hold of me any more! 

So, even though I don’t feel like making lemonade with all those lemons, I am writing.  I will not allow it to rob me of that joy.  And even though I don’t want to make lemonade, I can at least see that there were some serendipitous moments granted me in the mix, and for those I am truly grateful.  They gave me the intermittent strength to make it from one lemon to the next!!           

Self Nurturing: Working The Clay

Many years ago, perhaps in 1981 or 1982, I treated myself to a short course in pottery.  I was living in London at the time and worked in the area called The City.  This is the financial district where all the major banks have their head offices and various supporting financial institutions and the London Stock Exchange are also located there.

An adult education program was being offered in a school near my office and one of the classes on the evening schedule was pottery.  I have always had artistic inclinations and loved indulging my creative side.  The course was only six weeks long and, because it was being offered within the City education system, the cost was very low.  Pottery was one area of the arts that I had not tried and so I enrolled.

As soon as I touched the wet clay I was hooked.  There is something both soothing and sensual about working with clay.  I am a very tactile, hands-on type person so I was in my element.  By the end of the first class I already had two pieces made and ready to dry.  I could barely wait till the following week when we made another, slightly more complicated piece and also glazed our first work. 

Upon returning to the third class I was ecstatic.  There on a table sat two items with my name printed neatly on a label in front of them.  They looked like something that I would buy in a store.  They looked professional.   One was a flat, rectangular, plate-size dish with a slightly raised, inch-wide border that I had glazed in a deep burgundy red overlaid with a black speckle effect. 

The other was an eight inch tall cylindrical container with a lid that had a small loop handle on top.  This I had glazed in a soft grey-blue that was slightly mottled in effect, even allowing hints of light green here and there.  I had engraved the letter “R” in this piece because I had made it as a gift for my mother.  It sits upon my hearth today.

I made several other pieces over the course of the six-week class.  I gave them as gifts to my family members for Christmas.  But the class finished all too quickly and nothing more was offered.  I researched several other adult schools but found no more pottery classes.  I felt as though I had eaten an appetizer and was still hungry for more – lots more. 

Years went by and I moved back to Italy and life took a totally different turn.  I remarried and started a second family at age forty and got a little lost in child rearing and home making.  Years passed, other activities filled my life and I forgot about pottery until recently the hunt for a gift for a friend took me to a small art gallery and there was the sign:  Pottery Class – any level, come and have fun.

I signed up in a heart beat and two weeks ago went to my first evening of working the clay again.  It was as though I had never stopped touching this marvelous material.  Clay is so malleable, so soft, so giving and forgiving. If something doesn’t go quite the way you expect, you just wet it down and start over.  My heart was singing and I shaped and designed and created until my joy was on overload!

We used three different techniques and created three different bowls.  Each one was very unique in shape and finished design.  One was very smooth on the exterior but we cut out flower and leaf pieces and put them on rather like an appliqué.  On another we engraved whatever pattern we desired.  On the third one, which was very open and shallow, we created a textured finish on the top side and left it smooth underneath.

Tonight we went back to glaze our pieces.  So many colors and finishes to choose from!  I made each one different, but somehow either the color mauve or eggplant seemed to make its way somewhere onto each piece.  My soul was very happy by the end of the evening.  Now I just have to be patient.  Our teacher will fire our pieces in the kiln tomorrow and they will be ready for pick-up on Saturday.

This was just a two-evening class.  But before I left I spoke with the teacher.  More classes are coming up and she is hoping to offer them on a regular basis.  Thank you God, I need this kind of soul food.  My creative muse needs nurturing on a regular basis.