Peak Experience

Back before I wrapped up my 25 years on the radio, I always had something to listen to in the studio. I was posting my playlist to a Folk DJ internet listserv--basically an email newsletter--and since I had the station address in my signature, independent and self-released folk artists were always sending me CDs for airplay. On an average week, I'd have anywhere from a half-dozen to dozen new albums to preview. Around Folk Alliance time, that'd double.

So when I finally retired, I had a huge gap in my studio listening. Honestly, throwing, and to a certain extent, glazing and decorating, is boring. Without something to occupy the two-thirds of my brain not involved in controlling my hands, I'd start to go stir-crazy. At first, I continued with music--went through my entire CD collection, winnowing out albums that I only kept in case I might need them for the radio show. But I needed something else.

I can't listen to audiobooks. My reading rate is super-fast; audiobooks, by comparison, are so slow. Fortunately, I discovered podcasts. I listen to a wild variety: Sci-Fi, Design, History, Food, Language, Trivia, Productivity. No True Crime, it's not really my thing. But a lot of Science.

One of my favorite science podcasts is Ologies. Every week, the host, Alie Ward, interviews a scientist from a different discipline, riddling them with her own enthusiastic questions, plus queries from listeners. It's a delight, and I always learn something.

Which is how I happened upon Oreamnology. The study of Mountain Goats. I've always been fascinated by them. Not closely related to goats--they're their own family--but nimble and powerful and able to thrive in the most barren and inhospitable places. I always hope to see one when I'm driving through the Rockies, but as yet I've only seen them in zoos.

But I was still inspired to add one to this year's Inktober sketchbook. And when I showed it to the potters down at Club Mud, Jon immediately asked if I intended to paint them on pottery.

Why the heck not? They're simple but striking, look good even if the kiln gives me whitened pots. And Jon bought the first two mugs right out of the kiln for his daughter and her partner, who have first-hand mountain goat encounters.

Funny thing, though. If I were still doing radio, I might also have wound up encountering Mountain Goats.

Of a slightly different sort.