It's the End of the Year as We Know It

And you know? I'm okay with that.

In a normal (non-apocalyptic) year, I'd have three more days of Holiday Market, Dec. 22, 23 and Christmas Eve, closing at 4 pm. We'd load out the pots, stumble home exhausted after supper out at a favorite restaurant--for a long time, the former Jade Palace, more recently the same spot as Evergreen Indian. Go to mass the next morning, have a quiet Christmas, just the two of us, and go back to the fairgrounds on Boxing Day to take down the rest of our booth.

Only one of those things apply this year. Quiet Christmas for two.

Holiday Market officially closed at 3 pm Saturday, December 19. When JJ, in red sweater and Santa hat, rang the traditional bell, the whole two-block area erupted in cheers. We were all ready to be done. And after five rain-free Saturdays, the weather actually held out just a little longer, finally starting to shower at a quarter past four.

I had a surprisingly successful run. People came out, most of them masked, some of them distant. A few even used hand sanitizer before handling the pottery. (I made a point to do likewise before swiping their credit/debit cards.) Sales ranged from good to unbelievable. The fourth Saturday set an all-time record for one-day sales for me. The following Saturday bettered it by nearly $250. When I finally totaled up sales for the entire Market, I'd done about 2/3 of the previous year, in less than a third of the selling days.

I'd also been busy during the week--I had seven or eight orders to fill, three picking up here at the house, the rest packed and shipped. Blew through half a big roll of bubble wrap, and had to run down to Walter Nelson's to get another big bag of cornstarch packing peanuts (or, as we call them, white cheetohs).

And I get Christmas week off, almost. Still had to go down to Maude Kerns and collect my work from Art for All Seasons, left half on consignment in their gift shop. Signed up for a late January firing at Club Mud. And delivered another dozen tall mugs and a few pie plates to Tsunami Books (and picked up a nice check in return).

Home by lunch, and that's it. I'm done. No more pottery business until 2021.

Except.

The phone rang at 1 pm. It was a woman who'd bought a cardinal mug from me a couple of weeks ago, a Christmas present for her mother. The cat knocked it off the table this morning and broke it. Did I have another?

I got one out of the shed, wrapped it, bagged it, put it on the front porch. Called her back to tell her to come pick it up, no charge.

Just because the universe is unfair doesn't mean I have to be.

Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Glad Yule, Bright Solstice, Warm Kwanzaa. Whatever you celebrate, know our thoughts are with you. You're not really alone. Stay safe.

Special orders

My next firing is scheduled to load up January 24, glazing to begin on the 17th. If you'd like to make a special order, now's the time to think about it, and contact me no later than January 10. It's winter, things take longer to dry.

Meanwhile, I'm keeping my In Stock list current, and you can preview some of my work at my Instagram. I now have 185 followers there. Follow along to see new pots, works-in-progress, and continued updates from my sketchbook. I'm @off_center_ceramics.

Video Land

No new videos at the moment, though I have some ideas for the winter. Meanwhile, you can see all the ones I've collected so far at my blog.

Encore Pattern of the Month:

The Sounds of Memory

I had a bird feeder hanging outside of Denise's office window for years, to no avail. Finally, last year, a Chickadee found it, and told all their friends. Now I'm putting out black-oil sunflower seeds every couple of weeks, and they're very vocal about letting me know when I'm falling behind.

I went time-travelling this morning, cast adrift by a sound that echoed out of the mist above my head. I found myself back on my Grandpa's farm, a little place scratched out of the pine woods near Fairchild, Wisconsin.

Visiting Grandpa Flick was always an adventure; I don't think his place had changed much since World War II. He never had indoor plumbing, so we used to fight for the privilege of swinging on the handle of the cast-iron pump and catching ice-cold water to drink in the handle-less tin dipper.

Of course, that meant we had to patronize that other exemplar of outdoor plumbing: the weathered wood outhouse, back by the garage. I remember the splintery seat, the big brown spider spinning a web above the door, the can of barn lime you dashed down the hole in the summer to keep the smell more or less under control.

Unlike our farm, Grandpa didn't have any close neighbors. It seemed like the forest crowded in right up to the fence-line, thick and dark and impenetrable. Strange noises came out of it, screams and chitters and a harsh, almost metallic "deed-deed-deed." I imagined all manner of creatures, from lynx to bobcat to pterodactyl (I always was an imaginative child), just on the other side of the barbed wire.

Today, of course, I recognize the screams and chitters as blue jays and red squirrels, disputing over who had title to all the ripe pine seeds. And that eerie, metallic three-note call belongs to the chickadees that flocked invisible in the fog above my head this morning.

Chickadees have been visible on my pottery lately, on plates, pastas and pie dishes, mugs and bowls, bakers and cookie jars, pitchers and sugar bowls.

Indeed-deed-deed.

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