Pottery Wheel classes

As regular readers would know, I keep and use my bucket list to enrich day to day life.  To do things out of the ordinary or things I’ve ‘never’ done.  One of the simple experiences was to trying ‘throwing clay’ or making pottery on a wheel.

All my school art classes focused on making clay items out of a coarse, dark brown clay that was quite rough.  You could never achieve the smooth surface of modern ceramics.  Cross hatch and slurry and coiling to build a vessel just didn’t excite the imagination the way the movie Ghost did!

The exterior of the Pottery Shed in Surry Hills, NSW

For many reasons, I’ve decided to take four weeks off work to reflect on my career, but also to pepper this time at home (and not travelling overseas) with some enjoyable activities I’ve ‘always wanted to do’.  So I booked three pottery classes, which start with using a pottery wheel, followed by trimming (making the foot of an item) and then glazing.

There’s a few places in Sydney you can do it, but I chose Surry Hills.  It is ‘my’ part of town – not too far from where I have often lived.  I also liked the chances it was more of a diverse age range, as I feared some daytime, weekday classes may be populated by recent retirees or stay at home mums of teens in private schools – I know, I had STRONG ideas of who might be in my class! In the end, my class was about a dozen, and I’d say the majority were my age, I think one group of three girl friends, two couples and one older woman.  The instructor was a young man, and he did remarkably well teaching us the three steps without once stepping into any innuendos.  He also was incredibly perceptive to our needs for encouragement, guidance and help.  Our searching eyes as things went off kilter, or didn’t quite look anything like we’d hoped!

The unsullied wheel

I loved that the class started with mentioning that there’s minimal waste – if we got ‘over’ our clay or what we made it can crumble and remix with water and ultimately be reused.  Woo hoo.  Of course, once it’s fired and glazed, it’s a different story, but it was nice to know we weren’t wasting in the learning phase on the wheel.

They are missing a graphic or two which were ripe for innuendoes

The clay was wonderfully silky and smooth on the hands too – though also, I was alarmed as how much of the clay did come off on my hands, and bewildered that my huge lump was whittled away – sometimes making something a lot smaller, or finer, than I’d initially envisaged.  I think beginners ultimately need to be guided by whatever their hands form, that starting with an objective in mind!

My handiwork

I return a week later to trim them, and a further week will be to glaze them.  Interesting, there’s not set structure in doing the three classes, which means there’s options: you can come and glaze some existing pieces.  You can pay to have your piece trimmed for you.  All sorts of variations for the busy and time poor.  I have no need or intent for these bowls, but a friend said she like them, and they’re as good as hers now!

Have you tried a pottery wheel?  Where you any good at it?

Screen free week

I recently completed a screen free week.  Here were my rules:

  • Monday to Friday (coincidently Friday was a public holiday)
  • aim for less than 30 minutes of use of my phone per day, measured by the app Moment
  • no computer screens
  • no TV screens

How I made sure it might work, were doing things like

  • creating a paper calendar for the few weeks beyond the screen free week
  • turning off ALL notifications except conventional text messages and phone calls
  • turned sound BACK ON. Usually it’s on silent with vibrate, but now I knew if I got a call, it would be important
  • warn near and dear – people I chat to regularly, that they could call me
  • hand wrote a list of 30 questions I’d seen online, as a journaling exercise.  Hardly used them.

Did I pass?

YES I DID!  Here’s the image of the app I was using, and how I did.

I should outline a few things I did allow and weren’t captured by that picture

  • I listened to podcasts in the later days, using another phone which doesn’t use the app.  But I just listened
  • I looked up on recipe on my laptop in the whole five days, and that would have added to that time
  • I helped the parish office with a certain task, and so jumped on their PC for a short stint to update a spreadsheet

Honestly, it went well.  It resulted in my reading two novels, the Economist magazine cover to cover in one sitting, and a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle!  Plus lots of socialising that was long and uninterrupted.  There were a few junctures that challenged me: I opened a bank account specifically for the flowers I do for the church. When I had the account details, I wanted to email the people who needed it straight away! Instead, I waited a day til I knew I’d be in the parish office, and then asked the administrator to send it out to who needed it.

The state library

Another time, I was to meet someone at Coogee.  Usually, I’d plug this into the GPS.  Instead, as I was told to take my time, I drove to Bondi and then just kept heading along the coast, hoping that after Bronte, somewhere, was Coogee.  It was!  And now I feel I know more, geographically, about the beaches of Sydney!  I did use the GPS to leave much later in the night, and the dark, but only as far as a main road, and then off it went.  I also used GPS to get from one suburb to another – I’m not used to the cross country nature.  The route there was madness, the route home was super sensible and simple.  Face palm!

I really loved my close friend rang me and checked in.  It was super touching.  My parents, oppsy, weren’t warned and had some time sensitive things to sort for them (having just relocated).  In the end, it wasn’t a problem, the item was found with them, but much back and forth!  My brother lives with me, so I was confident that he was an avenue for them if there was a true need to contact me. Instead, I checked in once or twice a day with their communications, replied, and called it done.

Ideally, I hoped the digital silence would leave space for an epiphany about my work and career.  I can’t say it appeared, but on the Saturday following this screen free week, I had two fortune tellings and debriefed with friends, and perhaps that’s helped plant some seeds…

How do you do with screen time?  Do you have limits on yourself? Do you use an app like Moment to track the time you do spend?

Cambodia

For the week after New Years, I joined my friends for two nights in Bangkok and four nights in Siam Reap.  They has been in Vietnam prior, and continued onto Phuket.  I probably couldn’t have articulated why I wanted to go to Cambodia, but I am glad I did.  It has a very laid back feel to it, and feels still a little unspoilt.  There’s countless hotels, of the 4-5 story size, with strong European influences.  January is the dry season, but being South East Asia, it was humid and hot.  It always is!

Cambodian’s seem to be very capable basket weavers, and I think they were used somewhat for fishing, not just as a decorative food serving device. This tree was at the airport
Does this not look like bliss? The bikes were used, but the pedal taxi was merely decorative
Despite it’s name, it was incredibly tame compared to similar streets in Bali, Phuket or similar.
A remork is the Cambodian’s answer to a tuktuk. Usually a scooter with four seats, though the rear facing back rest could fold down and then your suitcases or other transportable items could fit
A canoe idling at the rear entrance to Angkor Wat. I think these are traditional, as I saw one in the man made lake at the resort too
Approaching Angkor Wat from behind
This etching demonstrates how work on Angkor stopped when a king died. So there’s lighter etchings in the top areas, compared to around where his hand is.
Angkor Wat from the front – the light is all wrong, so I am thankful we started by seeing it from the behind
To the left is the very common etched pillars, which to an electrical engineer like me, looked like insulators we use on poles! We saw glossy stylised versions at the airport – what a great room divider
The brighter/lighter head has been replaces or restored. These figures were also repeatedly etched on the walls in Angkor Wat
The concubines… which is Cambodian is a word that includes ‘sara’ so it sounds like I’m partially a concubine?
Side profile of one of the smiling buddha’s at the second temple we visited – it had 49 pillars, all with a face etached on the four sides
Lotus flowers were everywhere, with the petals folded in various ways. They seem to be the national flower
When the humidity was too much, or after a work out 🙂
Inside Ta Prom – a temple overtaking by trees
The silvery trunks of trees growing
Nature always wins
It’s hard to know if the rubble was a result of nature, or humans

Cambodia had always been on my bucket list, as I’d been to it’s neighbours: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam.  The bulk of the holiday was relaxing and eating and drinking, we saw all three temples in one day, and that was just enough for us 🙂

My parents home is a library

I thought I would take some photos to demonstrate the quantity of books in my parents house.  All of them, I would expect, are read.  They aren’t for show, or nostalgia – well I’m sure some stay from a nostalgic point of view, such as the ones on antiques, surfing and teaching physical education.

These shelves have started to be sorted into authors – Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Leon Uris, Jonathan Patterson, Jonathan Kellermann, Janet Evanovich. There’s a shelf or two of CDs, but they’re never used anymore, of course!
The other side of the fire place in the formal living room which has doubled as my bedroom. Lonely Planets, Harry POtter, Richard North Patterson, Deighton, Bryon, Robert Ludlum, John Le Carre, Sue GRafton, Robert Harris
Glass fronted bookcase – the bottom half isn’t filled with books, so that’s… something?

And that completes the previous formal living room/part time my bedroom.

Now for the casual living area at the back of the house:

Colour coded – so yes, hard to find things. This was colour coded when this add on room was built. The bottom left quadrant is DVDs

My brother’s bedroom… and also at times the formal dining room.  We have a house that’s very adaptable!

Three of these bookshelves hang out in my brother’s bedroom
Wooden bookcase two – some of my brother’s political reading
Third wooden bookcase, and a hodge podge of left over books

Now into the casual dining area, off the kitchen.

Around the doorway, from the casual dining area off the kitchen
At the back of the casual living room, between the kitchen. There are books everywhere

And for the smallest room in the house, the study, which… also had a previous life as a (tiny) bedroom for my brother.

Study, right hand side. And I recent corralled all the French dictionaries for my imminent daily reading of a French novel
Study book case on the left
Third study bookcase, which was formerly a window to the informal living area (now). Another French dictionary tucked in there

Interestingly, there’s two bedrooms with no bookcases or shelves.  And our three bathrooms are spartan of books… well as far as a permanent place for books!

Can you see from the first three photos why I have felt a little… cluttered?  I’ll be moving into my parent’s bedroom whilst they’re away, and I’ll relish the wart on walls, and blank wardrobe doors 🙂

How does you home compare for this quantity of books, and shelves?