We find things that make us very happy

Bette Burgess
Bette Burgess

Happiness for some people is picking strawberries and making jars of strawberry preserves to keep and to give as gifts.

Happiness for others is manning the riding lawnmower and roaring across the back forty like Mad Max in Fury Road.

For me. it was hearing about pottery starting soon at Randolph Community College. The following Monday morning, I jumped out of bed, sprinted down the hall, let my dog, Ava Gardner, out for her morning constitutional, and dialed Randolph Community College’s continuing education office.

Since I called before anyone was in the office, I heard a recording asking me to leave a message. My message was a plea to be included in any class, morning, noon or night. I sounded desperate. I even gave them my birth date, hoping to get the sympathy vote.

While I waited for them to call back, I thought back to all the classes I have taken in past years and the fun I had.

My first finished hand-built wonder was a bird house. I extruded lumps of clay through a pipe and it came out looking like a pipe. I made a base, a top and a hole to allow a bird to climb through and build a nest. In reality, no self-respecting bird would live in that warped, blue bird house.

Later, I learned to make a bowl that would not fly off the wheel and did not become a plate shape when it landed on the floor. I have a cereal bowl to prove it.

I kept my “feelers” on alert for any interesting objects to decorate my pottery with. I found a set of rubber stamps with Chinese Nature symbols in calligraphy. The cheat sheet showed the English translations like Earth, Wind and Fire (not the ’70s music group), flower and water. I decorated my wall pockets with these symbols along with a card, which gave the English translation. I filled my wall pockets with dried flowers.

Years ago, I found hand-carved wooden block prints from India that were used to transfer painted designs onto cloth. They made beautiful designs on my flat wall pockets.

I collected butterfly, fish, dragonfly, ladybug and teddy bear stamps to make necklaces for children.

Along the way, I made “Hippie” dude bowls and “Hippie” chick bowls. I punched holes with a straw around the tops of bowls and strung beads to tie on them. Students at Randolph Community College bought most of these creations, but two real “Hippie” chicks bought the rest and asked for more. It is a wonderful validation when people get your work.

The telephone rings and it is the lady from Randolph Community College. She signs me up for a Monday and Wednesday class. I am extraordinarily happy. Now, I must buy a bucket with a lid to keep my clay in and a set of tools.

My brain is dancing and thinking up new projects. My hands are hoping they remember how to turn clay on the wheel.

I am hoping my instructor won’t fall over laughing at my unorthodox techniques. I hope she is amused and accepting.

I look forward to meeting my new classmates and learning something new.

Life is a series of learning experiences. How we use these experiences to enrich our lives is what helps make us who we are.


Email comments to bettecarnesburgess999@yahoo.com.

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