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It sure was a hard time getting started but I was able to make it into the studio to start some outstanding projects. The weather is nice enough to have warm days to do yard work but still cold enough to have frost. The studio was a bit cold so I used hot water in the tossing pail. I was brainstorming on finding ways to keep my clothes clean some while throwing and thought I would try aprons made for dishwashers and they worked great. I have for years simply clayed up cloths then took them to the laundromat after soaking them in a pail of hot water. Way back I remember my mentors soaking their cloths in hot water and vinegar. I have since learned to not enjoy the smell all that much as potters use vinegar for almost anything; in their slip, cleaning, mop water, handling mugs, and anything else it seemed they can dump it into. If you asked the reason they always have one for sure but it may not make total sense but that’s just fine as long as it makes them feel good about what they might need vinegar for.

Warm Days Cold Nights

I was able to fill a bunch of grow bags with soil to start a garden later. My wife and I decided to use grow bags because the soil here at Creek road is very rocky once you break through the sod. It took about 10 bags of dirt, the was a bit expensive due to inflation but we got it done. All we need now is a fence to keep out the rabbits and deer. The rabbits have no fear of us and we can almost walk right up to them and I’m sure they all would have a great time munching down the lettuce when it sprouts. I hope to plant around Memorial Day.

I have a few summer shows planned that should be fun to attend and meet people of the area. Work-life balance has been a challenge as I had a schedule change and things are going well but I have been a bit tired on my days off. I hope to get back on the straight and narrow and keep looking ahead as if you look back to much things can get crooked some so no need to be perfect. Just make your first furrow as straight as you can with your eyes looking to some landmark on the far side of the field and it should for the most part come together. It’s Spring and the plowing should be done but the fields were a bit wet to get on. Many couldn’t wait any longer to plow or things would come up late; “knee high fourth of July” for corn. But Rusty Clapper was having a real bad time getting started this year plowing with the horses.

Rusty Clapper Breaks a Leg

When Rusty came to he lifted his head a little. The sun was bright and warm up in the twenty acre plot on Crow Hill. He could make out the looming dark shadows of his three large workhorses standing ahead, their heads shaking off the black flies and getting impatient.

Rusty could feel the cold damp earth as he lay on his back in the six inch deep furrow. He tried to move some to see if he was all right but he could not feel his left leg. He reached down with his left arm and a thousand prickling pins raced up the limb, telling him he must have been laying there long enough to cut off the circulation. “Hooo!” Rusty said to his team. They were older horses, well trained, which may have saved his life. Rusty propped himself up on his elbow to have a look at his situation.

Big Sam was smart enough to stop the team when they hit the rock plowing. A younger team might have spooked and ran, killing Rusty and breaking the plowshare. Rusty loved having big Sam in the furrow as he set the pace for the other two horses. He could see the evener had came right off the plow and the pull beam lay on the ground, The trip for the plow might have been rusted up some as it never sprung when it collided with the huge rock. He sure was a lucky guy a little. But he was in a great deal of pain in his left leg. He winced and lay back down as the horses shook their heads, annoyed by the flies swarming around them.

Rusty and Evelyn always had a rule that they would eat dinner together no matter what at 6 P.M. sharp, and if one was not there, each should go find the other. The boys had their own jobs off the farm now, so it was just the two of them and a basset hound they called Sherlock, who mostly laid under the table. Rusty left a note for Evelyn that we would be on the Crow Hill lot plowing with the horses. When rusty checked his watch out in the damp furrow under the big sky it was only 2 P.M. So he had some time. He knew it would be a long fours hours.

It sure was a nice day up on Crow Hill in the field, in furrow, under the sky. A few clouds moved slowly over head as Rusty lay there on his back. It had been some time since he lay on his back looking up at the sky. He thought maybe the last time he had the pleasure was way back when he was 10 or 12 years old when his cousins and he would go swimming in the pond out past the barn in the pasture. Out by the big gnarly oak tree where the cows would lay in the shade on those warm summer days. All the kids would lay out also on the soft grass by the pond after a swim before milking, watching the clouds float by.

The tree had a large bough that reached out over the water and if a kid claimed up there and if he was brave, a good cannon ball splash could be made from leaping off. Out in the pond where you could play all day knocking each other off the big tractor tire inner tube, out where you could scoop up tadpoles and minnows in your hands. A cloud drifted over top Rusty that look like a plow. “Real funny.” said Rusty out loud to the Lord. “Real funny.”

The horses were being quite good, standing still as they all spent time out there together, on Crow Hill, while they all waited for Evelyn to get home and come to find them. Rusty was doing better than expected with the pain as he lay in the furrow. There were a lot of things he might have done differently in his life now that he had time to think about it out there on the ground as he watched a few sparrows dive and dart above his head.

Rusty Clapper thought maybe he should call his brother as he reflected some. Maybe he was a bit to hard and judgmental way back when Randy decided to sell his half of the cows and leave the farm to take on a factory job. Rusty seen it as a bit selfish, and a betrayal of what their father worked so hard for all those years. But maybe the guy just wanted to be happy, and plus Mama would be disappointed with the falling out they had if she were still alive. Rusty must have dozed off some in the furrow behind the horses with the plow with thoughts of his mother’s comforting smile.

’Ruuuustttty! Rusty!”

Rusty thought he heard his name but was not sure until he heard the barking and yelp of old Sherlock , his hound, coming his way.

Rusty Clapper! Are you OKay?

Rusty propped himself up onto his elbow. ‘I’m over here!” he yelled back.

It was Evelyn, she came out to find him. Tears welled up some in his eyes as Sherlock waddled up wagging his tail and licking his face pushing him back to the ground. ‘Ohh come on boy not now. Ouch! Not that leg boy! Off me now!” Rusty reached in his pocket and gave Sherlock the treat he was looking for. Rusty always kept one in his pocket in case Sherlock needed to find him. He knew Sherlock worked for food like the rest of us. “Now lay down boy or you’ll spook the damn horses.”

”What on earth happened out here! It looks like you could have been killed!” said Evelyn as she made her way over the turned clumps of plowed earth. “ I’m doing okay but I think I might have broke my leg” said Rusty, as Evelyn stumbled towards him.

“Mercy! How long have you been out here like this!”

”Ohh just a few hours..you know..I just laid down and had a little nap is all.”

”Rusty I told you to sell those horses. Your going to get yourself killed!”

”Now Evelyn I need you to listen carefully because I need you to unhook Abe and take him back to the barn and hook him up to the rock sled. Then come back so I can get to the road. I’ll tell you exactly what to do.’ Rusty instructed.

“First unhook the evener from the tug line on the back of Abe here and then the line connecting his bit to Jacob. Next unhook the evener from the other side and then last unhook the neck yoke. Always unhook the neck yoke last in case they take off.

“Rusty Clapper your going to be the death of me! Back Abe..back..back.. Abe a little… Hooo!”

Once Evelyn got slack in the line she unhooked the eveners on both sides of the team and then went to the front and unhooked the neck yoke. It made a heavy clink as it dropped it to the ground. She unhooked big Abe and led him back beside the plow. Standing on the plow tire, she swung up on the tall horse.

”Okay I’ll be right back! You don’t move Rusty Clapper! Keep Sherlock here with you and the horses.”

”Be careful hooking to the sled. Remember, always hook the neck yoke first. Abe is good with the sled and knows what to do. He won’t give you to much trouble but go easy!” Said Rusty, shading his eyes to see Evelyn on top the tall work horse.

”Okay don’t worry I’ll be right back. Abe.. step up..easy Abe..good boy!”

The large workhorse knew his way back home. As a matter of fact, a little to well. Anytime Rusty had the horses standing, he knew if big Abe was in the team not to have him stand in the direction of the barn or he might feel the need to return home a bit early.

Evelyn returned no time flat and helped Rusty roll out of the furrow and onto the sled. On the somewhat painful and bumpy ride home, with his hound and the two other large horses, Sam and Jacob trailing behind, Rusty thought himself quite lucky. After having worked so hard and coming so far he thought maybe he even enjoyed his sufferings a bit. What a great day to be in a procession with horses stepping slowly down the road and being alive to enjoy it.

There may not have been a Rusy Clapper, Big Abe , or a corn field on Crow Hill, but somewhere someplace someone was forced to have a time of relection. This is my story about my town so I get to tell it how I like.

Written By,

Al Wayman

Artist/Owner

Creek Road Pottery LLC

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The Struggle

I always have a real bad time knowing when to do what and many times I feel as if I specialize in procrastination rather than doing what I do best. But what can be seen by others or ourselves as procrastination or being lazy might simply be due to a poor work-life balance. I remember last year in 2020 during the pandemic, I shut the pottery down for a week to read the book “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl. I loved the book and what he stated still has stuck with me. Frankl in his book said:

“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it” -Victor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Take Time For Yourself

Taking time off to do nothing or to be with family is just as important to creating as creating its self. Even though I had a lot of orders to complete and kiln loads to fire I still took time to go to the family reunion and visit with all the family I have not seen for years. I sat and ate potato salad with Uncle Wayne and Aunt Ruth and chatted with cousin Sean at the grill. Gave hugs to Aunt Gladys bent with age but still smiling and got to meet all the children of those who were children themselves last time I have seen them. You have no idea how fast time passes until you attend a reunion and see loved ones you have not seen in years. Then my friend Richard stopped by.

It was Richard’s birthday. I had planned to make pots all day, but Richard was on his way to Texas to take a class. My friend is huge into all types of research and I always enjoy spending time. So we took the day having lunch at the Diner and watching interesting films he has been collecting for his newest project. Richard is the one who got me into many topics of study and in his home shelves line all the walls but the kitchen three books deep. Over the last 25 years he has loaned me book and even helped me with clay projects. All of this was a nice break to have. But I need to get back to work as customers are looking for work. So I need to do the work and I need to learn to enjoy the hard parts and learning how to suffer the right way.

“But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me?”

Having a good “why” is helpful to stay on track and having patience to persevere over the long run can make the work more about the journey rather than the destination. If you have a mission after resting, the hard work still needs to be done. I always work to get back into the mud, sometimes kicking and screaming. If do not participate in telling my story to the world, others will write it for me, or I will end up following or living the story of someone else.

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?” – Hillel the Elder, Mishnah Avot 1:14

Work-life balance helps us focus on what is truly meaningful and it then comes out our hands as we make the work and do the tasks that becomes a product that others enjoy. So I might take a long time getting custom orders out, or maybe a bit slow at finishing a few projects, but over all I try and ask like Frankl asked “If I was living today a second time what would I do”