Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Verbs, All of Them Tiring

In the book Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, the heroine Ada is in desperate circumstances before she meets the resourceful Ruby, who shows her how to turn what she has into a comfortable life. Ada's transformation from a helpless waif to a competent woman, while not exactly the central theme of the book, is very inspiring to me. My favorite chapter is entitled "Verbs, All of Them Tiring," in which Ruby walks around the farm with Ada, taking stock of what they have and what needs to be done. There's a long neglected apple orchard, a crop of tobacco abandoned in the spring, with which the women can barter for other goods; they have hayfields, which need cutting, and a root cellar which needs to be dug out deeper. All in all they have a great deal to work with: work being the operant word. 

This is inspiring to me because, as you read the previous chapter, Ada's situation seems quite hopeless. It is only seeing it from Ruby's perspective that both Ada and we, the readers, see what it could become. 

I feel I need to take stock, too. What assets do I have? What potentials? What needs to be done to develop the potentials? What am I able to do right now?

  • I have a kiln, a home-based studio, and all the necessary equipment to produce pottery. This is the baseline. The kiln could be more useful if it were rebuilt, because it is too loose and inefficient to be used for glaze firings; right now I can draw a plan for the shelter (no point building a new kiln if it's going to sit out in the weather), and purchase the materials for that. 
  • I have several consignment outlets; those could (perhaps) do better if the work were refreshed more often. Right now I can schedule a firing for this week, and switch out the work at some of them. 
  • I am juried in the the Center for Maine Craft; instead of waiting for them to call me, I can contact them about a wholesale order. 
  • I have a good camera, and a graduated backdrop to shoot my work. I can take some new shots and apply to the Northern Clay Center's upcoming jurying.

Tiring verbs, indeed! I need to stop there, as I am beginning to feel overwhelmed. Imagine if I'd been Ada, listening to Ruby's much lengthier to-do list! Of course Ada had the additional motivating factor that her alternative was starvation. I have to IPTOG which effectively insures my continued comfort, if not affluence (HA!) Which brings me to the next phrase which is caught in my head: Burn the boats?

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