On Reading

Last week a woman was telling me about a book I might enjoy and then said, “But you probably don’t have any time to read while working here.”

“Actually, I read every night before bed,” I said.  I explained that on my first full day in town one of the first things I did was to go to the library to get myself a card.  She was duly impressed.

Then yesterday, a friend e-mailed me this quote:  A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.  A man who never reads lives only one.

Both of these instances made me think of my mother and how appreciative I am for the fact that, as children, we were read to every night before bed.  Dad read to us too, but I mostly remember Mom sitting in the hallway opposite the built-in bookshelf from where we kids had each just picked the book we wanted read that night.  We sat surrounding her and she read – with expression – each of our chosen stories.

If you’re reading this now, be grateful for the people in your life that helped you learn to read.  Perhaps even send them a note of thanks:)


Blacksmithing – in July?!

The story goes that, when asked if there were any problems with the classes here at the Folk School, one student remarked that the air conditioning in the blacksmith shop wasn’t working.  For those of you that don’t know, there usually isn’t air conditioning in a blacksmith shop.  So why anyone would come to the Folk School in July to take a class that has you standing in front of a fire all day (and half the night), I don’t know.  But like every other time I’ve been here the blacksmith instructors (in this case Lucas House and his assistant Matt McLean) had no problem filling their class with twelve eager students.

Student in the Blacksmith class - a father who was in the same class as his 18 year old son:)

At least two times a week, either just before or sometime after dinner, an instructor will do a demo for any students at the Folk School.  On Thursday night, I went to a well attended blacksmith demonstration.

Students gathering for the blacksmith demonstration - the instructor is tending the fire; bucket with red stripe is water. He doesn't like using tongs so he holds the end he's not working on with his hand. When the piece gets a little too hot, he sticks it in water to cool it down. Every time he did this, we saw steam rising out of that bucket...

On a flip chart, Lucas drew a picture of what he was going to make for us – a door handle.   That part I understood.  But then he said something about making a tenon, and I was lost.  I’d heard of such a thing, but had no idea what it was.  Surprisingly, I didn’t ask.  Lucky for me, once he finished the tenon he told us as much and I finally put it all together:)

Lucas making a tenon.

Lucas putting a little twist in the handle. I was amazed at how easily hot metal can be moved, but then someone commented on the size of this guy'sarms - I'm thinking that may have something to do with it.

It’s probably about 85 degrees outside at this point, so you can imagine how hot it was inside the un-airconditioned blacksmith shop.  But take a look at that vest the instructor is wearing.  See all those pockets?  They’re filled with ice packs.  He says he can work for quite a few hours in that vest without breaking a sweat.  Necessity is the mother of invention:)

Unfortunately, I had host duties to attend to so didn’t get to see the finished product.  But here are a couple of things students in that class made last week.

This student made a fireplace grate. I saw him working on it in the shop on Tuesday night. He and I both agreed it was a good thing he had two more days left. Wish I had taken a picture then to show you, but here it is, all finished.

Yes, a blacksmith course is on my list.  Hopefully, by the time I take it, the weather will be a bit cooler (or I’ll have bought a vest to fill with ice packs).

Polymer Clay Basketry

On Thursday, I went into the lower level of Keith House (the main building on campus) to check out Karen Woods’  Polymer Clay Basketry class.

This was the goal of the class: to make a paper basket with polymer clay strips woven in.

But before they even got to the baskets, they learned a little about polymer clay, and then wanted to learn a lot more about it. So the teacher said, "Sure!" and they made all sorts of fun things - beads, pendants, bookmarks.


They eventually did get to making baskets - here's one in progress.


The class worked around a large table - here you can see some of them working on their projects.


And a few more finished baskets:)

This weekend I’m taking “Herbs for Health and Happiness.”  Will post some pictures soon:)

Arrival – A Wonderful Welcome

The only person in the building when I arrived was my Senior Host, Cory Marie Podielski and she did a wonderful job welcoming me to my home for the next four months.

A Colorful Welcome

I had happy flashbacks of my days as a Resident Assistant when I saw how she decorated my door.








Mug, Bag, and Nametag

In my adorable room I found a mug and bag both with the Folk School emblem.  And most importantly, my nametag.  Everyone at the JCCFS has one – students are one color, instructors another, and the staff has the ones you see here.  Here I am – on staff at this place I love so much in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina.



A Brain of Soap

And then there was this – a gift from Cory that combines 1) my interest in handmade, all-natural products 2) my former life as anatomy instructor and 3) my new life as arts and crafts student. This, my dear friends, is a brain made of soap – which Cory made herself here at JCCFS:)


According to the article I was reading, the first gay couple to marry in Manhattan on Sunday have been together for 23 years.  The women are 77 and 85 years old.  I did the math.  This means they met when they were 54 and 62.  So I figure, at 34, I’ve got plenty of time to meet the love of my life:)

(Note to God: if you want to send him before I hit 54, please do!)


On Leaving Jobs

“I hate my job,” she said.

“So quit,” I said.

“People would think it’s ridiculous to leave a job in this economy,” she said.

“Um…you realize you’re talking to someone who does things other people think are ridiculous all the time, right?”

“Yeah,” she laughed.  “But if I quit, I’d lose my retirement benefits.  Maybe I’ll just put 10 years in so I at least get part of them.”

“How much longer is that?”

“Four more years.” She laughs.

Mind you this is an educated woman with many skills and a great social network.  She could do whatever she sets her mind to.  She has enough money socked away to live for at least a year.  And that’s not counting her retirement funds.  There are people with less that have done it.  She could do this.  So why doesn’t she?  Well, I can only speculate.  In my experience, it’s a little scary to leave a job without a new one on the horizon.  But now that I’ve done it so many times, I have faith that it will all work out.  Because it always does.