A couple of pots…


The blog is working.

As I’ve stepped back and evaluated the direction my life is taking, vs. the direction I wanted it to take when I was young and idealistic (a common middle age crisis kind of thing)  I’ve identified a number of items that aren’t quite what  was going for.

One of them is my spiritual focus. (Don’t worry – I’m not going to get into a big religious thing here. That doesn’t qualify within the established parameters. Just making a point). It’s not as strong and well established as it once was.  I’ve looked back over the last 10 years or so to see where I diverged. Basically I’ve decided it is a reflection of what I spend my time thinking about.

The most recent things I put in my head impacts my focus in direct proportion to the amount of the thing I’ve put in my head in relation to the other things I’ve put into my head most within the same time period.

Pretty deep.

Basically, the time I spend reading or talking about the spiritual aspects of my life has faded away. The solution, read the scriptures more, attend more services, write about it, think about it. Then it will be more focused.

Now, this blog isn’t going to help me spiritually, but it is facilitating the same thing creatively. As I’ve put this up and started posting, I find myself thinking about being creative. How to do it, making time for it, etc. My work goal for today was to get the TV antenna up. I put it up late last fall to see if we could pick anything up with it. Thought I did a pretty good job until a wind storm blew it down a month later.  So, second try. Got it up.  Goal achieved, time to burn. Now what?

Throw some pots.


While I was getting the tools and stuff I needed to do the antenna I flipped the heater on in my pottery room in the garage. So when I put my tools away, the pottery room was nice and warm and just crying out for me. I decided – two bowls. I’ll just throw two bowls and we’ll be good. No big effort, no attempt to create something magnificent. Just two bowls. 

I grabbed a bag of nice warm clay and threw two bowls. No big deal. Just did it.

An important element of this whole effort is the doing of the thing. I have a tendency to put to much weight on ‘doing things’ to make a giant production. I’m an amazing planner, organizer and get-ready-for’er. Then, with all of the pieces in place, way to often I fail to do ‘the thing’. I decided to do the pottery thing two years ago. I found a used kiln for a decent price. Took a class. My wife bought me a wheel for my birthday. That was cool. Over that summer I rearranged the garage, pulled in the other odds and ends I needed and ended up with a fairly decent pottery studio. Then last winter was just to cold. I bought a heater, but it wasn’t big enough for the whole garage so it never really worked. (Another me fact – I HATE being cold.) So last summer, after I put in the new sprinkler system, which then flooded our basement, which required the placement of all the basement furniture in the garage until the basement was cleaned, re-insulated, re-sheetrocked, re-painted and re-carpeted, I finally put a barrier up between the pottery studio and the rest of the garage. Notice – no significant amount of pottery going on during this period. A whole lot of other things going on around it. But now I had a studio I could be warm in.


A month or so ago I went out to work, turned on the heater, set everything up, and grabbed a bag of clay.  It was frozen solid. So I moved it to a kinder environment. And once again, I didn’t do. I don’t have to make up excuses, they just happen naturally.

But today I did do. I had some time, I could choose to do anything I wanted to fill it and I threw two bowls. No big deal, just did it.

I credit the blog in my making that decision. It’s always in the back of my mind. I need to post something. I need to do something to post about. I find my focus sharpening, growing tighter.

Just put one foot in front of the other…


Where this will lead?

The thought keeps going through my mind – where will this lead?

Odds are, nowhere. Without a focused commitment and a life change, it will fizzle. That is a matter of will and effort. I can control that.

So what if I make the journey and find myself wanting? That is the next most likely outcome. My greatest fear is to discover that I am mediocore, average, or worse. This effort could prove that by displaying my inability to create something worthwhile. But I’ll never know without taking the risk. By making journey.

And I can enjoy the journey. That needs to be the primary goal. The rest will come, or not, depending on how capable I am. And maybe, when I achieve the best that is in me and it falls short, maybe the record of my journey will help someone else achieve theirs and maybe theirs will be amazing.

Then again, maybe I’ll create something truely memorable…



What I'm up to…


 And so it begins…

the launch of the ExquisiteLines blog where I will explore and document the resumption of my personal exploration of the creative process. 

The journey started too many years ago as a teen working on my photography merit badge. My councilor took me into the dark room to teach me how to develop a photograph. In the gentle orange glow he exposed the paper, slid it into the developer and I experienced a magic moment as I watched the image appeared.  That moment started it all. I found an old camera, joined a camera club, took a Jr. High School photography class, took pictures of cattle and pigs for the FFA and joined the High School annual staff. Then off to college to get my BFA, winning all the department photography awards (one twice) and an art show award in the University’s annual student art exhibit.

I went to LA for my internship and worked as an assistant in a commercial studio on Venice Blvd.

Venice Beach Sunset with Birds on Beach

We shot models, movie stars and generators. I played a bit part in a commercial with Mr. T. (like I said – this was too many years ago…) and cruised the Hollywood set of the Love Boat hoping I’d run into Julie or Gopher.

 After I graduated I jumped on a plane and spent the summer travelling in Egypt, Israel and Greece with cameras around my neck and hundreds of rolls of Kodachrome in my suit case. I walked the streets of Jerusalem, took pictures of Hasidic Jews praying at the Western Wall.

 Jerusalem Wester Wall - Man Praying

 I watched the late night celebration of a Palestinian wedding in the West Bank, ate strange and wonderful food, worked on a Kibbutz, walked into the center of the Great Pyramid at Giza, 

Egypt Pyramids

 floated on the Nile,

 Nile Falukas on the River

wandered the mountain tops of Delphi where the ancient oracle answered questions for Kings,

Delphi Anthenian Temple

and woke up at 4:00 am, climbed a rock trail in the dark and watched the sunrise from the top of Mt Sinai. 

Mt Sinai Sunrise

I swam in the Dead Sea and walked the paths of En Gedi, a garden on the edge of the Dead Sea.

 En Gedi Leaf on Rock Water Fall

Not bad for a poor kid from a small farm town.

Then I came home and moved to Phoenix to start my photography career.

AZ Red Cactus

While I looked for photo jobs I built houses in the 115 degree September heat, slept for 4 hours and got up to clean office buildings. I got my first photo  job and learned how to shoot weddings. Finally, I landed an assistant gig in a commercial studio. More models, interiors, product shots. I ran the studio, remodeled the offices, perfected my dark room skills and cleaned the boss’ house.

Then I quit.

The magic was gone. It was all about business, not about exploration and creation. I didn’t like the people I was surrounded by. I wasn’t excited anymore. So I packed up, moved home and found the first job I could find – as a data entry clerk. That led to a report writer job, which led to a programming job. Somewhere in there I went back to school and earned a Masters in Public Administration. More programming, then running a team, then running a group, then a couple more groups and here I am.

Computer programming is a creative process – at least it is for me. That filled my creative drive for many years.  Now I manage a development team – analysts, designers, programmers, testers. They do the fun stuff and I coordinate it all.  Not much creative process there – just a lot of dealing with things.

I’ve also reached the point in my life where retirement looms on the horizon.  I’m good at what I do, but I don’t want to do it till the day I die. Someday I’d like to walk away from it – take pride in what I’ve done and retire. But retirement doesn’t mean to sit at home and watch my garden grow. It means work – I have to work. But it is work that I do because I love it, not because I have to earn enough to pay for my daughter’s braces or my son’s Karate classes. So I’ve decided I need to start preparing for ‘retirement’. And what do I want to do when I retire? I want to explore and learn and create beautiful things. I’ve given up trying to change the world, but I still think I can cut through all of the pain and frustration and muck that is life and create something that will brings a moment of joy to someones heart and a hint of a smile to their lips.

This is the start of that effort.