Unabashedly Closed

Holiday Market officially closed at 4 pm Christmas Eve. Staff rang the bell, everybody cheered, and set to packing up our stuff. For several years now, we've rented the hall an extra few days, so that folks with particularly complex set-ups could take their wares home on the 24th, then come back on Boxing Day (December 26th) to tear down the booth and take it home.

Off Center Ceramics has taken advantage of the option for a number of years, ever since I accidentally dropped the booth frame on Denise's head one year and we spent Christmas Eve in urgent care, awaiting stitches.

This year, I packed out solo--Denise's knee was particularly painful the last couple of days, and the 24th is always slow. JJ, our new-minted Market Manager, was announcing that snow was predicted for Sunday and Monday, so I decided to stick it out and get everything in the van yet Christmas Eve.

It wasn't too bad; all the pots were packed by quarter to five, and the booth down and in the van by seven. The worst part was hauling things out. Because everybody was leaving at once, I couldn't park anywhere near the door, so was rolling out boxes by the hand-truckload to my van in the parking lot. I finally got close access at the very end, in time to load grid panels and conduit on the roof rack.

And so home to supper of Leftover Fried Rice and Christmas cookies. And bed.

Christmas morning we sang in church, had a light lunch of potica and summer sausage and a big ham dinner. Opened our presents. And on Saturday night, it began snowing.

There were about five inches on the ground when we left for church Sunday, and we'd gotten nearly there when we got a call from my choir leader saying services were canceled. It continued snowing all day Sunday and Monday, nine or ten inches in all.

I'm so glad I packed out everything Friday.

At this point, I'm closed for the year. Christmas presents to family went out yesterday. I've put away the packing supplies, and there's a load of clay towels in the wash. Some time next week, we'll do a physical End-of-Year inventory, and update the In Stock link. I'll pug the clay that's in the recycle bat, make up a throwing list, and go back into the studio to start 2022. But for now, we're closed.

Have a Happy New Year!

Some Assembly Required

When I first started this website in 2003, it had about six links: Welcome, The Art, The Artists, Occasionally Asked Questions (because I didn't expect enough traffic to qualify for "Frequently"), Find Us and Contact Us.

As I built it out into something like an online catalog, I added Whimsical and Functional, and, eventually, Patterns.

The other stuff just accreted over time. Links to my Flickr page, my blog, my Instagram. An online copy of my MFA thesis. A wedding registry, that's only been used twice. A link to my wife Denise's website, pulpromances.com. Most recently, during the pandemic, I added a link to what's currently in stock, because I wasn't sure when my next firing might happen, and wanted to give people contacting me for orders some sense of what was immediately available.

It's getting a little crowded in here.

It's also not particularly optimized for mobile. The fact is, I still write these updates in html. Archaic, I know. But I don't see any way to rebuild it in a more modern format without losing a whole bunch of content that's important to me.

So we're stuck with this thing, and because I recently had a customer get lost trying to see what I make, I thought I'd write a Brief Guide to offcenter.biz. A tutorial, if you will.

That's it! That's the important stuff; all the rest is just chocolate chips and sprinkles, tasty and fun, but not, strictly speaking, essential.

Encore Pattern of the Month:

Knock Wood

When I was a kid, we had a wood stove in the kitchen, and a coal-burning furnace in the basement.

Well, I say coal-burning, but in fact I only remember one or two years when we bought coal for it. Mostly, we burned wood.

Our stony, glaciated Central Wisconsin farm had a lot of land that couldn't be cleared and plowed. Some of it was left as pasture for the dairy cows. Some was your basic swamp and marsh, also grazable during the driest part of August. But a lot was left as woods.

We had maple, red oak, white oak. Newer stands of poplar and birch. A couple of big white pine trees that had somehow survived from the original first-growth forests. Apple trees planted by early settlers, and replanted by cows.

We hunted them for deer and squirrel, harvested saw logs for lumber and smaller ones for fence posts, cut up tops and windfalls for firewood. With Wisconsin winters being what they are, we spent a lot of time in the woods cutting firewood.

I loved the silence in the trees, an echoing stillness broken by the chainsaw's roar, the thwock! of the splitting maul, and the staccato hammering of woodpeckers. We mostly saw red-headed woodpeckers, bright round heads and striking black and white bodies showing up well against the dark bark. Occasionally, we'd spot the downy or hairy variety as well, though we never got close enough to tell which.

I chose the Downy Woodpecker (or Hairy. I still can't tell them apart) to paint on pottery, after a special order from California for a related species, Nuttall's woodpecker, on a platter. I paint them on tall mugs, pie dishes, and dessert plates, and remember fondly the rat-a-tat-tat echoing through the trees.

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