Sunday, December 2, 2012


    When I was blowing glass on the back of the truck in Toledo, a very mellow fellow named Devan Cole approached me.  We had a short conversation, all of about 20 minutes, he's a glassblower involved in a school in southwestern Georgia, and after seeing the molds, suggested that I should come for a visit.  Sure.  Why not?  A couple of months later I received an email from Devan, wondering if I was still interested, and laying out some possible details.  We sorted all that stuff out & tuned in on some dates.  At this point it was getting to be late September, almost Autumn in fact.  I had a wedding to attend, then would make my way south after that.

    I have only been to Georgia a few times, Savannah & Atlanta.  I thought about attending Savannah College of Art & Design back in '93, but the price tag was a little steep.  And they didn't offer glass.  What a different life that would have been... My time in Atlanta had been spent between a hotel bar & the mall - I was overseeing the installation of a store's worth of fixtures in a former life.
    Meanwhile, I was finishing up some work time in Philadelphia, and planting some seeds for a return - I had been notified that I was accepted to the Art Market at Tyler, this gave me a positive date that I would be back in town.  A loose plan was starting to develop. Sometimes it is a comfort to have things lined up, other times it is a comfort to be completely open!  One must allow time for things to materialize on their own, you know.
   The trip South was very pleasant, except for the fact that I had to make sure that I always parked uphill when refueling, so that I could pop start the truck - my starter had finally given out on me, I would eventually replace it.  I am not much of a vehicle mechanic - but this truck is very straight forward - two bolts & a little grime & truck starts like a champ!

  I stopped off in Durham to visit & spent a day helping to trick out the shop there.  There is always a list of things to be done in a glass studio, and my hands were much appreciated.  The following evening I made my way to Americus via mostly two lane roads (the best way to travel), past pecan groves and fields of peanuts.  It was harvest time, so the air was thick with the smell of fresh peanuts being pulled from the ground.  They actually till the plants up & flip them over in rows, so that the peanuts are exposed to the air.  They dry out a little like this, then are gathered & separated from the plant & loaded into big bins and carried away to be processed.
    Landed late that night, met up with Devan, then proceeded to head to the hot shop.  Upon entering the shop, I immediately felt comfortable.  The shop is located on the far side of campus (around back), with a row of trees to block the art area from the rest of the campus.  The studio has a rough edge to it, although everything functions beautifully.  The benches and equipment are set up well for working solo.  It is very rare to find a place like this.

    The program was started in the early 70's, and had been under the direction of Ralph Harvey from the mid 70's up through a few years ago, when it was taken over by Charles Wells.  Ralph is quite a character, and frequents the shop nearly everyday in his retirement.  We immediately hit it off & had some fun playing around with my molds.  It is always such an honor to blow glass with someone who has been working in the material as long as I have been alive.  I am rapidly reaching that point myself, having been first introduced to this stuff 19 years ago - often I will be working with folks who are in their early 20's and suddenly realize that they were like two years old when I started!
    Charles is a brilliant multi-media sculptor, who does an excellent job keeping everything rolling. The glass department is small, but well equipped, and well run.  The vibe in the shop reminded me very much of Tyler when I first started.  Loose, and open.  If you have an idea, try it & see what happens.  Charles asked me on the first day what I would like to accomplish while I am visiting.  I have had an idea for a mold floating around in my head for about a year now, and decided that I should build it & see what happens.  My initial intention was to use this opportunity to create work that I could use to apply for a Wheaton Fellowship - going back to that feeling of needing to settle down for a little bit.
    The mold I ended up creating is a step further into the idea of never making the same thing twice.  There are 12 spring loaded buttons that are pushed in by one, two, three, or four people while the bubble is inside the mold.  The glass is hidden, so that everyone is working by feel.  The ends of the buttons are threaded, so the parts that come in contact with the glass are interchangeable.  The end product has varied greatly, there are so many different factors involved, that each time has been a new experience.  Right now, I am more interested in the process and interaction of the participants with the mold & the materials, than in the actual lump of stuff that comes out of the mold.  It was a big deal for me to be able to create this piece, a big step in a direction I have been wanting to explore for some time. Here are some pics from the first few days & the mold.
    The visit culminated with a big demo which involved everyone.  Charles had a life sized head mold that we blew, and placed it in the annealer.  For the next couple of hours, everyone took turns blowing into molds, and attaching the pieces to the head with a "Hot Ball" (a little glue bit of hot glass).  There were some technical difficulties, and we took it all a little too far, the piece ended up breaking, but the energy in the room was awesome! Here is a link to some shots of the demo.
    The day prior to this demo, during a conversation in the morning, Charles had asked me if I have ever considered going back to school to finish my degree.  I never finished my BFA, you see - I had an opportunity to start a studio with a friend in '97, and have meandered through various career paths since.  I did consider it about 10 years ago, for CAD and industrial design, but was offered a job as a Project Coordinator - the job I would be looking for once I graduated with that degree, so of course I took the job. It is something that has always hung over my head, but could not justify the enormous debt I would incur to have a piece of paper that says I can blow glass.  There are certain advantages to obtaining the degree, I am aware of that, it would really free me up to pursue the bigger dreams and ideas.  I could come back to Americus as a Continuing Education Student and once a Georgia resident, attend school & finish my BFA.  I told him I would give it some thought.  Took me about a half hour (I didn't want to appear too eager).
    So that is the New Plan.  I am moving to Georgia at the end of the year.  I will be able to sit still-ish for a bit, finish my BFA, get an MFA somewhere in the world, and then see what happens after all that.  I didn't see this one coming, but very glad it has!

Hmmm...Made In China Studio, in Americus, GA...I like the way that sounds.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Summer Intensity

    The summer was pretty amazing - in many ways.  There was a lot of reflection, soul searching, heart ache, and joy.  Oh, and it was HOT! Record temps in Durham when I was there - like 108!  Left that to Oklahoma's 119!  Dry heat is still f-ing hot & there IS a major difference between 100 and 120, trust me! Anyway, I digress.  Typical of the Oklahoma born male to  revert to weather talk to avoid serious conversation....

   Much happened personally, I finally opened up & let some shit go that had been standing in my way.  Re-evaluation, if you will.  Looking some of my big issues in the face.  Feeling more empowered about where I am in life.  Patterns of behavior that need to change if I am ever going to move forward.  I started to feel a need to sit still for a bit.  Sometimes feelings appear while travelling down one path, then suddenly the path takes a completely unexpected turn on you. That feeling stayed true, but my sitting still did not happen the way I thought it was going to.
    I ended up at my sister's place in Gettysburg one evening.  She had mentioned in an email that I was welcome to come and stay for however long I needed to rest and patch my bones.  Boy, did I need it.  That day at the spa in Hot Springs Arkansas did not cut it (BTW, I highly recommend visiting Hot Springs Arkansas - that water is Amazing!).  I arrived in Gettysburg with it in my mind that I was going to hunker down & home base it for like a month at least.  There were a couple of opportunities that had presented themselves since GAS, and I needed something to do to fill in the gaps.  Not to mention I sort of had the wind knocked out of me a couple of times recently, and just needed to take a break!

    I set up my portable lampworking rig in the garage, so my nephews and I could screw around with it, and proceeded to visit long standing friends and family.  The second day back involved getting lost in the woods  and then found again, with two of my best friends - like we used to do as teenagers.  At a certain point, I actually made plans to start working at a farmer's market, just give up on this whole thing altogether and go sell fruit.  That is when I received a message from the Tyler Alumni regarding the Art Market in early October.  It took me all of ten minutes to apply, so after that I called Nik at East Falls in Philadelphia to inquire about any possible gigs at the glass studio.  That was on a Friday.  He hooked me up teaching a Fun With Glass class on Sunday, and then a smattering of lessons throughout the week.  Back in the saddle again.  Whew, that was close!  Here are some pics from all that....

Sunday, November 18, 2012

There's a Glory Hole to be Built!

   Before leaving North Carolina in early June,  it was proposed to me that I should return after the GAS conference to Durham to help build some new equipment.  Originally, I was going to head out to Oklahoma and then back to Durham, but time and money were running a bit short.  So instead I aimlessly meandered South through Ohio and into West Virginia - into the town of  Williamstown.  A small sign lead me to the now closed Fenton Art Glass factory!  I had totally forgotten about this place.  Sad to see a place that has been around for so long no longer in business.  Right around the corner is the Gabbert Cullet company, who we used to get all of our cullet from in college.  Cullet is the name for scrap glass that can be remelted & used.  Theirs was the best.  I remember shovelfuls of little clear teddy bears and angels being thrown into the hot furnace!  We used a bit of their color too, the red was beautiful, as was the crazy carnival glass fabrine blue, and the peachblow...that was weird stuff.  They also had this fantastic striking opal, that would fade from opaque white through blueish white into clear.

    How strange to just happen upon this place after just attending the GAS conference.  I suddenly remembered another - Blenko!  I now had a plan, or the next destination, at least.  Stayed over in the parking lot of a fancy rest stop near Milton, WV.  First thing in the morning, I was at the Blenko Factory.
Blenko is one of my all time favorites.  They do a lot of mold blowing, and have had some pretty fantastic designers in their day.  They have this water bottle that was designed in 1938 and is still in production.  One of my all time favorite glass objects.

A table full of them!

    I spoke with the shop manager - I will admit, I was trying to get my foot in the door to be a guest designer - I think some of my designs would fit nicely in their catalog.  We had a great conversation about glass and the intricacies of dancing with the stuff.  I would really love to hang out at the factory some day & make some glass with those guys.  Unfortunately for me, they were not blowing that day, but casting billets for Dalle de Verre, which turns out to be one of the reasons they are surviving.  They also make rondels for stained glass windows, which is another item that is rare to find.  They have a scrap yard of colored glass that is for sale.

I ended up purchasing some cullet at 50 cents a pound, I'll take some red, thank you very much!  

This is the piece I made later on with that red.  

    Made it to Durham the next day, about a week ahead of when I was expected.  All good, my friend Paul is pretty laid back and open about visitors, I was welcome to chill.  The main project was to build a new glory with a 12" opening, using primarily the materials that Paul has been accumulating over the last couple of decades.  This is my style of equipment building!  Use what you have on hand, and adapt it to your needs.  I have put together a slide show, at this link, of the construction process.  
   All in all I stayed in the area for about 4 weeks. I threw in quite a bit of pleasure with the work - much needed after the previous summer (I spent most of that preparing to leave Philadelphia).  I checked out a fair amount of Central NC, as well as an unforgettable camping trip to the ocean.  My second time ever to the North Carolina beaches, I highly recommend!  It was a blissful month, one that I am so very fortunate to have experienced.  I was reluctant to leave, so I made plans to return after visiting my father.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The GAS Conference

    It had been many years since I have attended a Glass Art Society conference.  My first was in Tuscon in 97.  There have been a few more, Tampa, Seattle, Adelaide Australia, St Louis & Pittsburgh.  I have been talking the Toledo conference up during all my travels.  And it finally arrived.  About a week prior to the conference I realised that I actually could not afford the admission fees.  Nonetheless, having attended previous conferences, I knew that there would be lots of activities going on that I could check out without actually attending the conference.  I will admit that it was a strange experience.  Sort of an outsider feel.  I came upon this sculpture at the ballpark downtown, and it sums up what it felt like!

    But everything happens as it is supposed to, and for a reason.  I spent a lot of the time checking out the city, galleries & museums.  I ran into some friends from River Falls in the first couple of hours - some of the students that had participated in my demos last November, as well as Eoin Breadon & his family.  I attended a great party the first night at Firenation Glass Studio & Gallery where I met a few new & a few long standing friends.  I found out that Eoin would be demonstrating the next day at a venue that I could actually attend - I was pretty psyched.  It would take place at a mobile studio on the back of a box truck, located in a parking lot.  The truck belongs to Neusole Glassworks and wasn't part of the formal GAS agenda.  Sounds just about right.  His demo was a blast to watch, and a great way to spend an afternoon.

    The last day of the conference,  the students from River Falls gave a kick-ass demo at the Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art.  This would be the one time I bent the rules a little & snuck in to watch.  The demo was beautifully coordinated, and well practiced.  Everyone worked together well and the piece went very smoothly - they created a blown & sculpted Falcon in a Nest.
     The one big deal at the end of the conference is the party.  It is included in your conference fee & is historically awesome.  I wanted to attend, but could not justify paying the equivalent of several tanks of gasoline for a few hours of partying with folks.  The networking was over at that point, and that would really be the main reason for attending.  I was actually gong to leave town before the party started until I received a  phone call from Eoin.  He had been talking with Jason Chakravarty from Neusole Glassworks.  I met up with them.  Jason asked me how I managed blowtime to make work, seeing how I am travelling all the time. 
"Do you Poach it?"  This is probably one of my favorite questions I have been asked.  
"Sure, man. Why do you ask?"
"There is a furnace on the back of a truck with about 50 lbs of glass in it that needs to be emptied"
"Right Now"
    I followed them back to the truck in the parking lot & met the crew of the truck, Logan & Josh.  I pulled a bunch of the molds out of my truck.  Those who had not seen my molds before got pretty excited.  The guys gave me a studio orientation, and we started to play.  The River Falls folks all came by to watch, (and take some great photos, click here) as did a few other folks, it was nice to have the audience.
    First up was with a blowpipe that my friend Chad recently custom made for me.  It is a shorty with a long head, designed for use with small furnaces where you gather out from the top.  The opening in the head is a bit larger, so it requires less pressure to inflate a bubble.  This pipe was originally designed for use with the boro furnaces I was playing with in Montana, but did not acquire it until my recent trip to Gettysburg.  The glass they were using on the truck was Bullseye, which I had not blown since 1995.  Turns out it was great for mold blowing!  There are a few items left from this session available on my Etsy Store (Click Here).
    I must say it was a beautiful evening for blowing glass on the back of a truck.  The sun set in front of us, and as it grew dark, we worked by the glow of the glory hole & the ambient light of the street lights.  A block away in view, there was a wedding reception at a restaurant, the well dressed attendees would periodically stroll over to see what we were up to.  Others would come and go, and for our final feat, all three of us blew into different molds at the same time & stuck the strange glowing shapes together hot.
    I came to Toledo to network, although I did not make a large Quantity of connections, the connections I made were very Quality ones!  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Full Circle

    My friends Andy & Cheryl (the Bozemanites who took me in) were married (I was a groomsman - the primary reason for heading East) in Delaware, it was a lovely time.  I lived with those guys through the planning stage, so it was nice to make it through to the wedding & and see those plans realized.

    That weekend also happened to be my nephew's high school graduation.  I was so very glad to make it to the party.  He was born my first semester at college.  He is half my age.  Thinking about it in those terms is kind of a smack in the face - not that I would really want to be 18 again.  In many ways I don't feel any older now than I did then.  This aging thing is getting really weird...
     The return to Gettysburg was great, I had an interesting interaction with a couple of young kids at the Lion Potter.  Absolutely beautiful work, I do my best to stop in when I am in town.  On this particular day, there were some small pieces that caught my eye, made by the owner's children.  I decided to see if they would be interested in a trade - I pulled out a suit case of the little bowls & had a terrific time looking through them and telling the kids the story of the 99 bowls show in San Francisco.  I now have two small ceramic sculptures mounted to the dash of the truck! I have this mini art collection happening on my dash - all very small pieces, it started before I left Philly with a little Cali Lilly painting...
    Next stop was the Blue Brick Gallery downtown. As it turns out one of the members of the gallery is the Art teacher at Gettysburg High.  "You went to Tyler? So did I. When?"  "93-97" "You might know my brother then - Michael Thrush"  Michael was my freshman year roommate at Tyler School of Art!  It is a very small world indeed.
    The next stop would be Toledo for the annual Glass Art Society Conference.  As this year is the 50th anniversary of the Toledo workshop that started the modern studio glass movement, I did not want to miss this one!  Back to the same path that I took last November.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Return to Philly

     I left North Carolina, it was a short but great visit.  There was a tremendous showing of support there that would follow me through to my next destination, Philadelphia. This would be my first time back since I left the previous November.  It was now the first of June.  My brother lives between NC & Philadelphia, and his son happened to be visiting - so I made a point to stop by for an overnighter.  The topic of hood ornament came up over breakfast, sooo....

By the way, I'm not always this safety conscious!

    Meet Speedy.  He is a flying snail puppy born without wings in 1999.  He developed a rocket pack in order to keep up with his family as they would fly around with their naturally developed wings.  He was one of a series of pieces made when I worked for Greg Leavitt 1999-2001.  The puppies were something that Greg made periodically, and I happened to be there for this batch - one joke led to another & Speedy was born!
    With my mascot finally attached, off I headed.  We had a workshop planned for East Falls Glassworks, another along the lines of what I have done before, but no takers.  Fortunately, I had had a couple of conversations with Nikolaj Christensen (manager extraordinaire) about this prior to my arrival, and he set up a series of shorter lessons for me to teach.  This was a combination of some of the folks that I had as regular lessons prior to my departure, other regulars who had an interest in what I am up to, as guest teacher for beginning classes, and instructor for some newbies.  All in all I had a very busy schedule for five days made up of 2 to 3 hour sessions.  Perfect.  This new model seems like a much better direction to go in with the public access glass studios. This is really the type of thing I would like to develop in other locations as well. Shorter lessons & a variety of experience levels.
    Being back in the city that took so much for me to leave, a lot of strange things happened, psychologically.  I finally straightened out things with my old studio (I was still on the lease up until this point - a major stress).  I had this nagging fear that I was not going to be able to leave, that I was somehow going to get "stuck".  I started to feel strange stresses of the stuff that I left behind there, the ghosts around the corner, so to speak.  I tried out a couple of the old patterns just to see if they still fit - which of course, they didn't.  This intense manic feeling came over me. The oddest thing to me was that I tried to see everyone that I knew, and actually made plans to be in different places with different people AT THE SAME TIME!  I'm still not entirely sure about what was going through my head, I know that I am past that now, and that it won't happen again. Whew!  I didn't take very many photos, but here are some that I did take - Click!
    I left town relieved, but a little confused.  Enter one of the blessings of the Road.  Lots of time alone to think about it & sort it out. 


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On The Corner of Greensboro and Main

      North Carolina would have a whole lot more in store for me, though I hardly knew it at the time of my arrival.  A friend from Junior High - one of the first folks I became friends with when I moved from Oklahoma to Gettysburg at age 13 - happened to live in the Chapel Hill area.  We both knew that we were in the same general area, but had no specific meet up plan as of yet.  The Friday afternoon, prior to visiting the scrap yard, I decided to head in to Carrboro to see if I could find a Ma Roller somewhere. Seemed like a reasonable idea.  Checked a couple of places out, no luck, I'll try around the corner.  As I turned the corner of Greensboro and Main, I ran directly into my friend!  It had been something like 19-20 years since we last saw each other.  The folks from those days that I have been running into and visiting lately are the kind of friends that you pick up right where you left off, like no time had passed.  There is a connection that runs deep beneath the surface, and like the chance meeting long ago, here it is again.  We caught up a little & decided to get together later on in the little village of Saxapahaw where she lived.

      I continued my search for the Ma Roller to no avail, but I did end up with a hacky-sack.  The Roller would have to wait.  I rejoined George-ann & Charles, we did our trip to the scrap yard, set up for the workshop, and went to an opening for "Transforming Light" at the Hillsborough Art Council Gallery.   The show was a beautiful combination of glass sculpture by Lucartha Kohler, and amazing watercolors by Ginny Runge.  Afterword we all went to meet up with my friend.  Another chance meeting here would develop into a powerful connection that would prove to be trans formative.  I think we all have places in the world that we are drawn to by a force greater than us.  We appear in these places at just the right time.  We know the moments are significant, although we may not understand why or to what degree.  Most people tend to attach a bit of dogma to this, see things as God's will, etc.  I see it more of just being open to universal energy.  Serendipity.  Believing that what you need will present itself when you need it - providing you are open to it, are true to yourself & have faith.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Liberty Arts Workshop

     My next gig would be in Durham, NC, at Liberty Arts.  This is a terrific group of artists of various disciplines including metal forging, fabrication, casting, woodworking, ceramics and glass - all housed in a massive warehouse space.  Their space is in the same building complex as several rehabbed manufacturing buildings called the Golden Belt.  There are "quiet" & "clean" studio spaces (mostly painters) as well as apartments, a coffee shop, galleries, and other creative businesses in the complex.  I have seen this type of development in various places around the country, in many occasions, the developers spike the prices once the places become popular, often forcing out the tenants that make these destinations popular to begin with!  I have never quite understood this mentality, hopefully that will not be the case here.  It seems to be very well done.
     The glass studio is just getting started, and I was invited out to do a workshop & inject a little fresh energy into the mix.  The folks here I have a bit of history with.  Paul Vernon is the owner, and George-ann Greth is developing the teaching/community outreach program. I have worked off and on with George-ann most of my glass career - she was my first teacher - and we worked together for over a decade on a variety of projects.  Paul has had a small "weekend warrior" shop in Durham for many years in various locations.  He was also one of the students in the first workshop at East Falls Glass in October 2011.  I have always enjoyed this part of the world, and have worked in Paul's former studio on several occasions.  I was thrilled to be invited to participate!

    The workshop structure would be somewhat loose, a couple of folks could only come by for some of the time.  Charles & George-ann and Paul would ultimately remain the only constants.  We made a trip to the local scrap yard on Friday, where I found a cool bronze drain to use as a blow mold.  "Readymades".  The next day we went to the Scrap Exchange next door, to look for more readymades.  There were a few plaster molds I couldn't resist, that were originally created for ceramic slip casting.  Hard to pass up a mold that has the title "Stuffy Sleeping Bunny Feet" written on it in marker!

    Though I was only in town for a few days, we made the most of it.  Charles concentrated on a wet clay & bamboo mold - the bamboo was quite gnarly & made a beautiful pattern.  I went with the Readymades & found objects.  I have had this idea for removable inserts for the "Tripentahedron Vase" mold for about 10 years now and have never arrived at a design that I like - until now.  There was a pallet of funky stuff that we could pick from.  I found these three scraps of steel with an identical cut out on each.  Charles instinctively placed them in the mold - perfect fit & pattern for the idea!  I love it when that happens!
    George-ann had the most twisted idea - she had been freezing a package of uncooked "chicken paws", which she wired to the inside of a perforated cage.  The concept was pretty great, and the imagined object even better.  For some reason I was expecting this to smell like grilled chicken, you know, like a barbecue.  NOT THE CASE!  Seared flesh. One of the nastiest smells & I got a hefty whiff of it, since I was blowing out the mold!  We only blew that one once.

    There was quite a bit of local buzz, and many visitors came to watch.  One of the visitors was Caperton Andersson, a friend of Liberty Arts, who took a wonderful series of photographs. Here is a link to some of the photos she took.  And here is a link to some of the photos I took.  It was a really terrific visit, with much support & enthusiasm from all.

Monday, August 27, 2012

OK to NC

     I spent about a week and a half in Mangum, it just so happened that my sister & her daughter & granddaughter where there as well!  The scenery was quite beautiful, Spring weather had been good to the area, and I had arrived the week before wheat harvest.

     We drove around to dad's old childhood home & of course to the Jester cemetery (a customary trip).  Dad has his headstone already in place - I like to tease him that he could have gotten a better price if he would have had that second date carved in at the factory.....
     I was lucky enough to be in the right place for yet another intense phenomenon in the sky - an annular eclipse!  Not too often do you get to see one of these.  I was on the very North Eastern edge of visibility, and was pretty excited about that.  Wouldn't you know it, right as the moon started to cross the sun, the clouds rolled in & obscured my view!

Although I couldn't see it, I sure could Feel it!  

     It was a great visit, but had to be cut a bit short.  I had a schedule to stick to.  I-40 East across Oklahoma. I have done this road many times, starting in early childhood.  There are memories ingrained, some of which I feel it appropriate to revisit as an adult.  One such is Red Rock Canyon State Park.  Picnic with the family when I was.....5ish? I remember the color of the rock walls covered with daddy long legs.  Had a beautiful morning drove down into it & spent about an hour or so wandering around.

Yup.  Although the walls aren't as tall now as they once were...

     Short detour in Oklahoma City to find a place called Blue Sage Studios.  Staying true to my ways, I just dropped by & they were closed.

I know where the place is now, and will make a point of calling next time!

     I took a little break once I got into Arkansas, and wandered around a little junk shop in downtown Ozark.  I keep seeing these glass swan dishes, all over the country actually, and this shop had quite a few.  I had one of these when I was young, blue & white swirly.  Here's my first glass memory - seeing these things made. I can still see it in my minds eye - pulling out the neck pinching the eyes & beak - maybe that was when the glass seed was planted.  I feel like the studio was in Arkansas, so I asked the ladies at the counter.  They told me of a place about an hour North, and of course it was too late in the day (and my schedule) to make it up there.  Next time.
     Made it all the way to Memphis that night.  I have been through Memphis many times, and have had some not-so-great memories attached to it.  That was a couple of lifetimes ago, and I felt like it was about time to give Memphis a chance!  So, I stopped right around dusk to check it out.  Landed right on Beale street.

     What a scene!  Music & people everywhere. Lots of Harleys lining the street. Quite the party! I soaked it in for a bit, check out the music for a bit, had a bite to eat.  The music was decent - there were loads of great musicians - but no one seemed to be playing anything remotely original.  Glad to have been there, but that was enough Beale Street for me.
Here's the link to a short photo album from the trip.
     I made it through to Durham, NC the next day just in time to prepare for the weekend's gig.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Time to Head East

      My time in California was coming to a close.  I would need to start heading East soon.  I spent the last couple of days working on future project ideas & chilling out with friends. A Massive emotional release had really started with that Full Moon hike, and knowing that I would be going to see my father & returning East was weighing heavily on my mind.  I was a bit out of sorts on my final full day in the Bay Area.  A friend of mine, who is a Healer, picked up on this, and kidnapped me for the evening.  She turned me on to this tool called a Ma Roller - a great substitute for the recent lack of massage.  I spent a bit of time on this, after which there was this magical moment  – she somehow managed to break through & open up some channels to allow negative shit to leave my body.  It was through touching a specific spot on my hand - and I went into a sort of trance.  She seemed to know exactly what I needed, there was no discussion beforehand - it just happened naturally.  It felt as though the pressure had been relieved, and I felt better than I had in quite a long time!
     The next morning I said my goodbyes to Public Glass, and started on my way. I had one more stop in California, the studio of Alan Masaoka in Carmel Valley. Jonathon Schmuck had sent a photograph of one of my molds (one that is very brain-like) to his friend Alan. It seems that there was a project underway that involved minds, and I was invited to come by & blow some of the brains! What fun! I took off towards Carmel Valley, I had never been there before. Holy Crap what a beautiful place! I found Alan's studio & gallery – he is an amazing stained glass artist (among other things), and has a fantastic little hot shop in the back alley. Just my style. This is going to be fun. The furnace was still a little cool when I arrived & we decided that it would be best to relax, have dinner & blow glass in the morning, when the temp was up.

     His friend Ellen would be joining us with some local fresh caught salmon, veggies, pie & ice cream for dessert! Wow oh wow! After dinner, some time was spent on an inversion table & in the hot tub, before retiring to a lovely treehouse for the night. 

     We awoke, had some breakfast & went to the glass shop. Spent the morning taking turns blowing some brains. Click here to see a few examples,(though they were made at different venues)

     I really enjoyed myself, it was tough to leave – but I needed to be in Oklahoma by a certain day, and I had no more time. I had to get on the road.
    Once again, I was amazed at how Big California is. Took the rest of the day to get to the border on I-40 (of course there were some random turns & roads – I have to be true to how I like to travel!) The Following day, I woke up in California, and went to sleep in Texas! I had to pass on the Grand Canyon, the hour or so that I could afford was going to be too much of a tease. I did stop in Flagstaff long enough to figure out that I want to come back & spend a little time there. This was the first time travelling across Arizona & the western half of New Mexico. Quite beautiful, lots of dramatic scenery, and lots of time to think. Driving Meditation.  Here is a link to a photo album.  I have not been East in over 6 months, and I was not entirely sure that I was ready for the whirlwind that was before me.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Prompt For A Little Self Examination

      I would like to clarify something regarding the last posting. The experience I had at Public Glass was amazing. The group of folks there have been so very welcoming and gracious to me, especially when my head was in its strange place. I was able to make a piece that I had been dreaming of for Years. I got to spend a fair amount of time in the area and get to know some extraordinary people. I hung out during the open cup blowing times and encouraged the folks who came by (to blow cups for the Hot Glass Cold Beer event) to try out my molds. I even got to blow a few cups! There were many other intimate interactions that really changed my outlook on things. These interactions are what it is all about for me.  There was a beautiful give and take between everyone I interacted with there. There is and will always be a little part of me at Public Glass.
      It turns out that the lack of enrollment for my class forced me to closely examine my approach. This was needed, but like many things, we don't deal with them until we are forced to (Everything happens for a reason, remember?). I had been in touch with my next two venues, and receiving similar reports. Not what I was hoping for. I really needed to start looking at what I have to do differently. After all, this is a make-it-up-as-you-go-along life, if something doesn't work, change it. One thing that I arrived at, is that the two day workshop is quite a commitment. For me, two days of dedication to one specific thing is not a big thing to ask – any day of the week. Most people do not live the lifestyle that I do. In response to this realization, I contacted my next two venues & let them know my thoughts. I proposed a more open format, where I would be available for private lessons, or as a guest artist in any ongoing classes.
      That was one aspect. The next was that I needed to step up the quality of my presentation & think about what I need to do to sell the work that I have been making along the way. With regard to the bowls, sans box was fine when the bowls were on shelves on the wall in the gallery, but now they needed to be presented as individual objects, in a way that lets folks know they are representations of unique moments in time.  The repackaging was an enjoyable process, I found a place called Scrap - seems like most cities have a place like this - and if not, they should!  It is a warehouse full of an eclectic mix of stuff - all organised in such a way that it is possible to locate things.  It is terrific if you are looking for some random, obscure item, or 100 of them.  It was here that I found just what I was looking for - little boxes & some pretty green tissue paper.  Printed up some stickers, signed the card & wallah!

A much improved presentation! There are a few of these left for sale, you can view them here.

These things sorted out, I felt like I was getting my head straightened out a little and when the weekend came, I went to Half Moon Bay Art Glass to help out, blowing some glass in between Douglass' lessons. We  made some fun stuff!

One of the blue vases we made that weekend is available at my Etsy Store.

      There was another thing about that weekend.  It just so happened to be a very powerful full moon Saturday Night - which also added to my wacky head space that week!  I was invited along for a moonlight hike in the redwood forest with friends from Public Glass, who happened to be house sitting in Half Moon Bay.  As you probably have noticed from earlier posts, the full moon tends to have a powerful effect on me.  This was no exception.  I was in excellent company - and as we pulled out of the driveway, the first track of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" came on.  I felt a little like Pink, sitting in the back of the car wrestling with bottled up emotions that decided to start bubbling up to the surface.  We went to a spot not too far away from where I had been just a week before.  We hiked for a couple of hours by the light of the full moon.

It was an absolutely Magical Hike - and Much Needed!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Reality Check?

  The experience of the Redwoods was just what the doctor ordered. I had accomplished a life long goal of visiting those trees. I felt changed.  I rode back north the next morning at a leisurely pace, stopping in Half Moon Bay to visit the Bakery and do some laundry.  While waiting for the wash, I called Public Glass to check in regarding the workshop that was scheduled for that week.  I was informed that there were no students enrolled, and that the class would not be running.  Shit.  This was not entirely unexpected, but a little disconcerting none the less.  The class was a chunk of money that I was depending on to make it to the next leg of the Journey. The show was a success on many levels and while I did sell some work, I was quite short of where I needed to be to continue on.  I will admit there was a bit of panic setting in - I have no back up plan.  There is no credit line.
    I walked around town a bit and checked out some of the shops, while settling into the idea of reexamining what I am doing and how I am doing it.  I noticed a couple of shops, one was purely art glass called Light & Art, the other a combination of imported items, beads, jewelry, incense, crystals, and related new age nick knacks called Tokenz.  I walked in to Light & Art, the owner asked if she could help me, I told her I was a glass artist. "Do you have any work with you?" "Yes, in the truck." "Why don't you go get it?"  I pulled out the big silver suitcase with miscellaneous glass pieces packed in newspaper.  Overall, I think she enjoyed looking at the work, some of which made her laugh (the chain mold tumblers & ornaments).  She picked out a variety of objects, and paid me for them right away!  Wow, okay, great! Lets try the next place.

    This was a different experience altogether. Seems that I only have enough mojo for one successful solicitation per day (usually the first), any others become a learning experience.  This one especially.  I took a couple of the bowls from the show (still wrapped in shoddy newspaper) and let the owner know that I thought she needed to see them.  Her sheilds were up from the beginning, but she was kind to me considering that I walked into her shop trying to sell her on my work!  She let me know about a local glassblower, Douglass Brown, and how to get to his shop.  I thanked her, and went on my way.

    Douglass' shop is housed in a barn on the same property as the La Nebbia Winery.  Here is the link to his website - click!  Pretty cool set up, nice small shop, a couple of little electric furnaces, single glory hole, couple of annealers, just enough room.  Oh, and it is next door to a winery.....I walked in the door and introduced myself.  "Wait, what's your last name?" "Vinson" "Did you just teach a workshop at BAGI, and do the Hot Glass Cold Beer at Public Glass?"  "Uhmm......yes?"  He pulled out a mold, and informed me that he was inspired by my work to make it. Whoa.  Crazy.  We had dinner and chatted a bit, he offered me a place to stay nearby, he happened to have an extra house for a couple of weeks, and he let me crash there.  He invited me back for the weekend to hang out in the shop & work on a couple of molds for him.
    A little cash in pocket and with something to do for a little cash over the weekend, I headed back to San Francisco.  I was still a bit distraught. I was left with most of those little bowls from the show that I now needed to figure out how to sell and from the recent experience in Half Moon Bay, I knew that digging them out of a box of old newspaper was not going to cut it.  The workshop format that I have been marketing has only had a 50% go rate.  I had two more scheduled in the East, with no clear way of how I was actually going to get there, and not knowing whether I would actually have students once I did get there!  Looks like I have to rethink this whole thing!  I thought a book might be helpful, something like Zen and the Art of Marketing Yourself.  Made it to a bookshop on Haight near Ashbury. Asked for said book - apparently it does not exist (not yet anyway) - but I was led to the business section.  Returned to the counter with "Marketing Lessons From the Grateful Dead" - very appropriate I thought!  

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Encounter With The Redwoods

    There was so much build up for the show and demo, that I was in a bit of a daze the next day. It was quite a mixture of things. It was a bit too much to digest all at once – I was going to need a little bit of time. I knew that I had to take the show down – there was a ceramics show being installed right after me – it took some time, but I got there.

     I finished up right about the time the demo piece cooled down. THAT was exciting! I have been thinking about this piece for a very long time, and I finally get to see what it looks & feels like. Sometimes ideas can be great all the way from conception to planning to making, and then are sort of a disappointment once they come out of the oven. And we were definitely pushing our limits with this one. I didn't know what to expect.
We were not disappointed! I think this piece was much more than I had expected. Evan called it “Bottle Storm” - perfect. Here are a few more pics of it – Click!

    I wasn't going to have class until Tuesday, so I decided that I should dig out that Treasure Map & go camping. I needed to decompress – a lot just happened. That and I figured that this was going to be my one chance to see the Redwoods – so I had better do it. Drove down Coastal Highway 1south out of San Francisco – what a beautiful ride. Right along the ocean. The ocean here is different than I am used to – in the East, the land is flat for some distance before you reach the long sandy beach. Here there are hills that are chewed away by the waves and tides and very short beaches lie just beyond these cliffs. Stunning. I had the pleasure of this view for some distance, before turning East. Hills, some wooded, some groomed, wind there way up and over. It is late evening as I enter into an area where the trees change. There are some Really Big Ones beside the road. I am headed to Portola Redwoods State Park via hand drawn map. The road in climbs in elevation a bit, past vineyards, and small farms, the smell of eucalyptus, sea mist and redwoods in the air. At dusk, I pulled into the ranger's station, self registered and picked up some firewood (I did have a debate about going to see trees & burning wood – but a fire is nice, you know) and drove down into the camping area. I parked at space 19, right next to these two Big Ones and unloaded my camping gear.
    I couldn't wait any longer, so I made my way over to check them out before setting up camp. It was now just after sunset & getting dark. I noticed a dark familiar shape at the base of the tree – It's a hole! I peered Inside to find a large dark cavity. I ran to the truck, grabbed a candle, walked over to the opening & went Inside.

    I hung out inside that tree by candle light. for quite some time. I could feel energy swirling around me, and eventually through me. These things are giant antennae, connecting the energy of the earth & the sky, and here I am, my first encounter with a Redwood, Inside the antennae! Intense! I have wanted to meet these trees my entire life, and here I was! Perfect.
Not sure how long I was in there, but a sharp sound outside interrupted the transmission, and let me know that I should probably set up the tent. I slept very well that night!  Here are some more pics of my stay - Click Click!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Return to Public Glass - Hot Glass Cold Beer

    I was given a hand drawn Treasure Map to an area where some redwoods grow - a place called Portola Redwoods State Park.  Barbara used to go there when she was a little girl, and since I have to tell everyone how much I have wanted to hang out with the Giant Trees all my life, she thought to share this place with me.  It was also right on the way to San Francisco from BAGI.

    You would think that I would have gone straight there.  The lack of fuel & temporary lapse in funding dictated that I proceed directly to Public Glass.  The Redwoods will have to wait. Again.

    I arrived in on Monday afternoon - charge day & shop cleanup.  It was good to be back.  The furnace lost some (but not all) of its decoration, and had been running smoothly since I left in December.  I met up with Evan - with whom I would be staying with - and helped finish up the chores of the shop so we could catch up.
    Dropped the Kids (that's what I have started to call the blow-mold collection) off Tuesday at Todd Tankersley's Studio to have their portraits taken - they are quite spectacular (here's the link).

    I spent some time the next couple of days checking out the city - sold a few of the remaining pipes to a shop on Haight, near Ashbury, which provided me with some much needed cash.  Went to dip the feet in the Pacific Ocean, and walk around Golden Gate Park.  There were all kinds of activities in the park, I chilled out I watched a some music happening.  It is a truly beautiful city, lots of trees - and not just trees, but BIG trees - there is nothing quite like the smell of eucalyptus.

    The week was spent in and out of the hot shop, getting ready for the big day on Saturday - the demo for Hot Glass, Cold Beer & the show, "99 Bowls Made of Glass on the Wall".   The Hot Glass Cold Beer event is pretty neat. The way it works is this: a couple times a week, the studio is open for people in the glass community to come in & practice blowing cups for free.  The cups then go into a collection, which is displayed at the front door on the night of event.  Attendees then pay at the door for a cup, which can be filled all night with beverage of their choice.  There is live music, demonstrations and a show in the gallery.  I hung out for one of the cup slots & brought the molds around for folks to play with.
    The lead up to the event was pretty intense, getting the gallery together, practicing for the demo.  These events are generally well attended - even though they were not expecting a huge crowd (I'm not that well known, you see), it was still going to be one of the biggest crowds I have demonstrated for.  Here are some pics of getting ready - click!
    The time came & let the show begin!  It was so much fun!  It is not very often that I have many assistants and a full shop at my disposal!  Not to mention Live Music to blow glass to!  These guys were playing what seemed like everything out of my "most often played" list. I like to dance & sing when I blow glass, so it was great to know most of the tunes.  Totally unplanned.  The demo went down like this - James was on one bench making little bottles from two of my molds - the design that I have 5 different sizes of - while Evan & I made a bunch of larger ones.  We then started in on a coiling technique that we figured out how to do the day before that would eventually become the neck of the piece.

Stuck them all together & Presto! "Bottle Storm" was born!  I have been dreaming about this piece for about 4 years - the drawback being the resources needed to make it happen.  I did two little ones at FOCI last November - now I REALLY want to keep going - I feel that we have just scratched the surface here.  Hats off to Jason Wertheimer for documenting the demo - Here's a link to an album with loads of pics - Click!  Many Thanks to all who helped this one happen - It was definitely a turning point for me - I think this pic of me at the end of the evening says volumes:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Workshop at BAGI - Day 2

    I spent that evening walking around downtown San Jose. It was quite a scene. People watching is always a trip.  There was a stand up evangelist at one point - microphone & amplifier, bible in hand, standing on a crate. It was a fairly busy spot on the sidewalk in a courtyard, he was facing the street and traffic and there was some interaction from the crowd.  Sort of showboating on the ol' soapbox.  A block away was another, this time in a not so busy spot, no amplifier, just on a crate against a building in some dramatic lighting.  This guy had a sense of conviction that was very intense - you could feel it as you walked by.  More real, in a way.  Less approachable.  Witnessing these two reminded me of a scene from Monty Python's "The Life of Brian".

    There were a few other minor observations along the way that evening, families on vacation, touring.  One of them left a camera behind - good job I noticed, that really would have put a damper on the evening!
    Onward to the next day!  There were molds to be finished & molds to be blown! The shop was a flurry of activity, as there was another workshop going on at the same time - Murrini making with Jonathon Schmuck.  It was fun to have multiple things going on around us.  I have been familiar with Jonathon's work for quite sometime & it was good to get to hang out a bit.  One of the students in Jonathon's class was Todd Tankersley, a professional photographer from San Francisco.  He was entranced by my mold collection & asked if he could photograph them!
    We had a blast blowing all the molds, some with success, others were a learning process.  That is one of the fun things about the workshops, It is really like sketching out ideas and seeing what is possible, and how these processes can be used in a person's own work, beyond the two days.  Here are some pics - Click!
    At the end of the day, Jon, Rich & I gathered up a ton of glass & blew the Biggest Mold I own.  It was a fun way to end the session. We made a bit of a mess, but man, what fun!  There was much video taken - all of which needs to be edited - it will be posted as soon as I get to it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mold Blowing Workshop - BAGI - Day1

    Despite the disappointment of not seeing the Big Trees, I did enjoy the ride through Cali to San Jose.  The weather was increadible, and the views even more so.  Another dramatic mountain along the way, Mount Shasta towers above the surrounding lands at 14,000 ft and change.  All I can say is WOW.  

      I was on track to be in San Jose right around six - until I stopped at a rest stop to cook some soup.  A fellow pulled in next to me in his little blue Triumph.  Stewart was travelling from Oregon to a spot in California where he has been working the land into an organic vegetable farm.  We meandered through life & times - it seems that there are many folks out there paring it all down to the basics, giving up on the rat race and searching for something more meaningful.  It could be that I am just noticing that more, now that I am on this path.

    I finally rolled into BAGI at around 9 pm.  As I turned the corner to park, I was swarmed by hundreds of folks on bikes. Al were decked out - there were tassles, bells, glowsticks, boomboxes, trailers - all laughing and enjoying the moment.  Apparently in celebration of 4/20, there was a "Bike Party" - where everyone went from point to point for live music & mild debauchery - the parking lot next to BAGI being the first stop.  As much as I wanted to join in - I had work the next morning & was quite tired from driving.

         I arrived back at the shop first thing in the morning, refreshed & ready to go.  The three folks in the class, Barbara, Rich & Jon, were energized and ready to go.  Barbara had arrived with pastries from Moonside Bakery - she and her husband own - man oh, man was that a treat!   She also arrived with loads of stuff to play with - including some molds that she was already using that she wanted to modify.  Rich & Jon have been blowing glass together for some time, and seemed to have a bit of a reputation as merry pranksters around the shop.  Everyone had a great sense of humor, there was no shortage of laughter and jokes.

    Here is a link to the first day - Click!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

San Jose Bound

    There are so very many things to see and experience along the way.  I have taken to following my instincts.  This also means that I don't really plan very much.  I just try to allow myself enough time between destinations so that I can explore things as they present themselves.
    I would need a couple of weeks to explore Seattle, and I cannot afford that time this trip.  So I boogied straight on through to Tacoma.  The Museum of Glass there is such a cool spot.  The quality of the work on exhibit there is always top notch.  I had visited in 2003, where I saw Bertil Vallien do a large casting demo.  The demonstration floor is awesome - stadium seating with a mezzanine all around & closed circuit TV where they can really zoom in on what the artists are doing.  I would really like to demo here someday.

    That Hot Second passed, time to head on south.  I spent the day driving through Washington, seeing what I could see along the way.  I drove towards Mount Ranier, I heard that Paradise is on the side of that volcano.  It was pretty rainy, although an exciting drive - I decided to turn around, and save it for a clearer day when I am not so rushed.

I seem to be having a difficult time these days committing to being somewhere at a certain time of day.  The publisized events are not a problem at all - they keep me anchored in a way.  Its the other stuff in between - I get torn between too many different options. I am not sure why this is.  I almost freeze up, as though I am not sure what the right decision is.  I call this "getting in my own way".  As a result, things will happen like not letting friends know I am in town until about an hour before.  This is what happened in Portland, where a friend of mine resides.  All I really had to do was give a little more heads up. Like a couple more hours & we would have hooked up.
    I did take a couple of ours to walk and drive around and check out Portland.  Had a beer at Tugboat Brewing Company. Okay, I had two. They were really tasty.  Took a little breather & got back on the road.  I don't really like driving at night - I miss too much scenery.  Rest stop & nap time.  Woke up at 4:20 AM on 4/20.  My workshop at BAGI was the next day, and I had some miles to put behind me.  Especially if I was going to see the Giant Trees!  I realized a little later that the scale of the maps in my atlas are not consistent - California is a Very Large State!
    That being said, I didn't stop for much until I exited in Southern Oregon at Grants Pass to take 99 towards the Giants.  I stopped at a coffee joint for some, and noticed that the tip jar was hand blown glass. There must be a hot shop around here somewhere.  I started walking two blocks up turn right.  Two blocks down the street I about to turn back towards the truck, when I noticed the word "Glass" written on the side of a building.

The group of artists at the Glass Forge were very welcoming. I ended up grabbing the truck & showing them what I was up to. I blew into a couple of my molds, and so did they.  We all got on quite well - I could have stayed there all day!  We traded t-shirts & I went on my way.  I will make a point of coming back for a visit.  I will be coming back this way I think - I didn't get a chance to see those trees.  I didn't have time. It is okay, for I am a firm believer that all things happen for a reason. I have waited all my life to see the giant redwoods, today just was not the day.  I had a class to teach the next day in San Jose.  This is something I was really looking forward to. It is very special for folks to see what I am doing & that they want to be a part of it.  It can be overwhelming at times.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Northern Route

    The last week in Bozeman was an intense one.  I started it with an Easter sunrise service at 9,000 ft. on the side of Lone Mountain in Big Sky.  First time on a ski lift. I am slowing working my way onto the slopes!

   Many projects started that I needed to tighten up before leaving.  I have been determined that I will not leave a trail of unfinished business behind me.  I do not know exactly what life has in store for me - part of this Adventure is to tune in to the current moment & embrace it, not living in the past or future.  I spent my time wisely, enjoying a bit of what the area has to offer socially as well.  It will always be a place that I return to, whether it be for a brief visit, or for an extended period of time.  I came with the intent of starting a public glass studio and found that the seeds have already been planted (Morris' vision of what can happen rivals my own!).  I hope to return in late summer, and bring some soft glass into the picture with me.

    I decided that I would like to drive across to Seattle to see a couple of friends, then South down the coast to San Jose, hopefully with time to stop by the Giant Redwoods along the way.  I traveled through Western Montana, stopping off occasionally to stretch the legs & see some sights.  I had to drive around Butte for a little while, it has a fascinating history - one that is so directly tied to the industrial growth of the U.S. and the world.  There were many new paths under construction, it seems to me that they are finishing up a walking tour of sorts.  Here is a link to some photos from my visit.

   Made it into Washington State that evening, slept a few hours at a rest stop.  I awoke just before dawn, stopped by a lake to watch the sunrise.

    The drive that morning was gorgeous, the landscape going along rather flat until right near the Columbia River where the hills start to undulate & there is a gorge that the river runs through.  Just across the gorge, up a hill then BAM! Far in the distance stands a sleeping volcano, Mt Ranier. Fortunately there is a rest stop there, so I didn't have to pull over to the shoulder.  The sight of this mountain struck me, as it appeared to stand alone, a hundred miles away, massive power rising high into the sky.  I did my best to capture this experience - some photos here.
    I  made into the Seattle area in the morning. I didn't call as I knew Jason would know when I would be there, and of course, he had walked out front to get the mail as I pulled up.  Such a warm welcome with friends that I have known for a couple of decades, yet have not seen in almost one of those.  Amy & Jason have a very special place in my heart, and it was wonderful to be able to spend a couple of days with them & meet their children.  They shared with me the things that make their life there so special.  There was a hike in the rainforest, much silliness with Legos, musical jam sessions, drawing sessions with pastels, and some wonderful meals prepared with Love.  The house was a handyman special that has been lovingly crafted into a home.  That place & its backyard reminded me of how powerful the energy we put into things can be.
    It was tough to leave, but that is the way it is for me now.  I had a conversation about this with my cousin just before they left Montana (oddly enough - the day after I left).  "We are the lucky ones - we get to go and see everyone".  The bittersweet part is that every moment is but a fleeting moment.  Each one is intensely beautiful, then gone.  That is the way life is - I feel that being sedentary can dull this down.  We need to be reminded of this impermanence.