September brings schooldays, the first flush of color in the leaves, crisp apples, cool nights, and for me, at long last, a return to writing posts for my site. It’s been a while. I wish I could say visits with family and friends kept me too busy to blog, but though there was some such fun, I spent most of my summer dealing with household disasters.
Things have been falling apart around here left and right. The catalytic converter and anti-lock braking system went on my husband’s car, the dishwasher started to leak, the toilet broke, and for a completely unrelated reason and yet almost simultaneously, so did the water treatment system. We had to replace a punctured tire on the mower, a cracked tile and warped heatshield in the woodstove, and the foot unit on the elliptical. Then three weeks ago, I tripped while running, landed on my face, and snapped my brand-new glasses. Ouch.
But the real low point of my summer transpired when my kiln broke. Since it went kaput during a glaze firing, I lost a load of pottery. I felt sick about the wasted materials and labor, and my mood didn’t improve when my kiln repairman made it plain he wouldn’t be free to help me until the fall, a problematic delay for me, given the orders I had to fill. I was distraught and full of apocalyptic doom, certain my kiln would never get fixed, probably wasn’t even fixable, and sure I’d have to find a way to finance a new one. I’m ashamed to admit how tragic I became. It was as if I’d taken my cue from a houseful of splintering, blocking, rupturing, popping, leaking things and promptly broke down.
Well, everything got replaced or fixed in the end, even my kiln. I was able to figure out what had gone wrong and purchase new elements, relays, and thermocouples. A good friend put me in touch with a trustworthy electrician, and this person, who knew nothing about kilns but was so smart, patient, and wonderful, spent a great deal of time getting my kiln up and running—and then asked to be paid in pots! I was touched, flattered, and frankly relieved. All the repairing and replacing had depleted our savings.
With the mishaps behind me, I can look ahead. I’m hoping for a smooth autumn and more time to write. To that end, this summer’s tumult has me thinking about the function of malfunction in stories. So often, a narrative begins to prove propulsive, springing forward and whisking the reader along for the ride, at a moment of breakage. Something shatters. Expectations get upset. Instability ensues. The main character stresses, struggles, and suffers.
Yet, more often than not, this character eventually pulls through. I suppose that’s why I keep reading. I’m anxious to experience the relief that accompanies a recovery. Give me boring, old peace and harmony in my personal life, but boy, do I love curling up with a book of scrambling and stumbles. The more a character reels, the more I appreciate their finding their feet. It’s encouraging—proof that humans are capable creatures and can figure things out.
Now, with my studio up and running again, I’m catching up on my pottery orders. Here are a few photos of some of my newest pots. The glazes are coming out prettier than ever, thanks to the fixed kiln. It’s firing perfectly to temperature, over two thousand degrees! Pots need the intensity of that heat to turn out right. Maybe humans do, too. We endure our crucibles, suffer meltdowns, and eventually cool. Every brush with fire changes us.