Sunday, January 27, 2013

Happiness Quotient


The full moon rising



How do we decide what method to use to measure our happiness?

Science has repeatedly proven when we say we’re happy there are parts of our brain which are stimulated to give us an actual sense of happiness. I don’t know how long that effect lasts, but I would guess that it would have at least as long of an impact as buying something that we don’t really need.

For years I didn’t fully appreciate the life I have. Every time Ben and I talked to others about what we do and where we do it, we evoked friendly envy. Just a few years ago, I finally listened to what they were saying and looked deep at  our lives here, rather than giving my usual put-downs about how we don’t have any money. Upon examination through  a pair of non-tinted lensed I finally realized that we are doing exactly what  we wanted, exactly what we had set out to do, and are living the lives we very deliberately designed; but I had believed, according to the gospel of capitalism, that since we were not rich we could not be happy.

How foolish I was.

In retrospect, I think I had always felt guilty for being so fortunate and only told myself I wasn’t happy. But I always look back with very fond affection at our past.

Fortunately I woke to reality. And I’m telling you today that, despite a lack of financial abundance and excessive consumerism, it’s very easy to be happy if you don’t follow the ideals that most economists evangelize as being the true path to happiness. Science has also proven, repeatedly, that money doesn’t buy happiness.

I’ve relaxed a great deal in the last few years – perhaps that is merely a result of aging, but I believe it has to do more with enlightenment on what happiness actually is. Although many of us don’t realize it, we all end up living the lives we design for ourselves by the choices we make. Many of us – I used to be one of them – feel like we’re thrust along the river of life by the flow of the stream, but we each make decisions every day that affect the route we follow.

We just need to make sure we’re making the right choices.

The lives we’re living today is the consequence of the choices we made yesterday. It is foolish to regret the past, which is gone and irretrievable. What will be best for our futures will be to make the choices today that will result in consequences which make us happy tomorrow.


Ben cleaning up the grout on the new tiles on our studio window



Monday, January 21, 2013

Slooow Mo

So, with time zipping by so fast, I feel like I’m in a sluggish state these days. It’s a perspective problem, actually. I’m getting the normal amount of stuff done, it just isn’t all the stuff I wanted to get done to accomplish my goals for the winter.

When I was young my dad used to tell me and my siblings our heads weren’t screwed on tight. He wasn’t being funny at the time, but it certainly is funny now. The images I conjure today, along with the memories of my sister and I joking about how she or I must have forgotten to screw our head on at all and left it somewhere, make me laugh. But there are days I feel like I must have bent over at some point and my head just fell off and rolled into the corner. There it is, over there, watching from a different angle than I usually see things.

And it’s all very funny.

I was getting frustrated over the photo requirements of the magazine to which I wanted to submit an article with photos, because everything I learned was that new techniques were so different that the photos would lose a lot of quality if I followed through with those specifications. I wrote e-mails and called a couple of times to get clarification, but didn’t hear back from the magazine. So I studied and researched everything I could find about digital photos and had decided that I would have to buy some expensive software in order to do the required formatting on the photos. I was bummed, since it was so expensive, but a couple of articles would pay for the software and I have a list of about a dozen articles I want to write in the next couple of years, so I braced myself up to make the expense.

Then I got an e-mail from the magazine editor. I would not, after all, need to format the photos other than what the most basic software would do. Wow, after all that . . .

Meanwhile, the work on my novel was going so well I was floating on a cloud – but it turned out not to be Cloud 9. I had written the first draft of the first five chapters, which was about a fourth of the way through the novel, but when I read them from a freshened perspective, I realized that two of the chapters would have to be dumped. They were the chapters about the second primary character. It would all come together much better in the end if we don’t see what is going on behind within those scenes, which were actually slowing down the pace of the book anyway.

And I certainly don’t want to slow down.

So I had to toss a big chunk of my work and that’s when I figured out my cloud was number 13 or maybe 17 instead of number 9. And now we have another pottery order, which we’ll have to squeeze out between days working for Ursula, so we have a bit more of a challenging time crunch.

But we have started tiling the studio windows (which only took us 18 years). We made a lot of tiles last winter. We knew we didn’t have enough glazed to do all three of the smaller windows, though we figured we had enough to do two windows and I was getting excited to get them done, but then spring and landscaping came too early to begin the tiling process.

So, yesterday we got the tiles up on one window and discovered we only had enough tiles to do one window. Wow, after all that . . .

But we did get started:


They look a lot like our bathroom tiles, but with a different texture


And the studio tiles are blue and green, rather than just green like in the bathroom


We still have to grout them, but already it’s feeling a tiny bit less like we’re living and working in a warehouse

(That’s our old water heater outside the window, which we still haven’t hauled off . . .Embarrassed smile)

Friday, January 11, 2013


Time over the last few weeks has vanished into the vast black hole of the past.With so much to do this winter, I feel as though I am losing the battle of time management. We’re working for a few days now for Ursula, cleaning up and painting the interior of their new place. I’m hoping they get it rented and that Ursula will have plenty of work for us this summer. The income is nice, but it leaves that much less time to get the things done that I need to do here before the summer landscaping season starts again.

I’m also getting very frustrated working on articles for the ceramics magazines. They’re asking for specifications with the photos that I’m having trouble verifying (not answering or returning e-mails and phone calls) which seem to be very odd to everyone I talk to and on Photoshop forums.

So I feel like I’m in a sort of limbo that has the sensations of the world passing into the black hole of time past when it is, at least in my present state of mind, actually me that is being sucked in as the rest of the world continues its normal pattern of near-stasis.

We’re in the middle of a big storm that is actually being big on the ‘being nasty’ part, but not on the ‘giving us plenty of snow’ part. The wind is blowing, sucking the heat out of the apartment and studio and drifting the snow, and the temperatures are getting lower. And yes, you’ve got it right, I certainly would prefer putting more wood on the fire now than sweltering in summer heat.

We had a fun adventure on Tuesday as we headed to town for work: the car died about ten miles from home on the way to Bozeman. We were hiking home, but a man driving a well-drilling truck (who happened to be the guy who came to replace our well pump three or four years ago) picked us up and brought us home. We decided it was the battery and drove back to replace it. It got us to town, then just before entering the busiest intersection we drive through to get to Ursula’s, the car died again. It turned out to be the alternator. It’s doing okay for now, got us to Butte yesterday to deliver pots headed to Nevada, so we’re breathing lightly and hoping nothing else goes wrong with the car for awhile.

But I’m already sure that this year is going to be a better year.

Or, perhaps more realistically, I’m determined it will be a better year.


Winter is beautiful, isn’t it?


But then, in Montana so is spring, summer and fall.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The holidays are over

Blues? No, I’m just glad to get back to what I need to get done in the studio and with writing. Too many parties, too much food, and too little work.

But I’m back now and I’m working on an article for a pottery magazine. I thought I would have to get a new camera, but it looks like I won’t have to. I wrote to ask the editors to clarify some of the photo requirements; I haven’t heard back from them, yet, but I think I have what I need already. Today I threw the pieces for a how-to article. Tomorrow I’ll put it together and take photos of the process, then I’ll write the article.

I’m anxious to start working on a load of pottery with our newest glazes, but we need to finish a last load of Dano ware first and then I have to mix larger amounts of the new glazes so I can fill larger containers for dipping larger pieces.

I also need to mix up some new samples for new glazes.

And I’m a little sluggish writing on my novel. I spent a couple of hours today, but only got a few blanks filled in on what I had been writing before the holidays brought me to a screeching halt for several days. I feel like a slug.

Yesterday we went cross-country skiing with Lori. On Sunday we went with Lori, Dan and Petra. It’s nice to get started skiing earlier this year than we usually do, especially since we haven’t even started our exercise program, yet.

Onward and upward . . . in some fashion or other.