My Small Tribute to Joe

I have had a tough month this past October but there are only a few people who know this, so I’m just going to put it out there. It doesn’t feel right to go on with a blog about pottery, without first acknowledging this big thing in my life. My ex-husband, Joe Rabel, passed away on September 27th, 2018. Out of respect for him and his family, I won’t go into the details, but I want to talk about this loss. I think that many might believe that an ex won’t be missed by their former partner. Our marriage dissolved right? Why would I still have feelings? In a way there isn’t a place for an ex-wife’s grief. Those who knew us as a couple 20 years ago, know that I still have strong feelings for him, but I walk around in a new environment now. There is no one to talk to in my daily life who knew him, or cared for him. Sometimes I just want to be with those who knew and loved him, but they are in Massachusetts, not in Chicago where I live. It feels strange to know that he is gone, that his family and friends are sorting through his things, getting ready to sell the house we bought together. He has lived many years without me, but they are still sorting through old pictures of our vacations, our record collection, and perhaps our old Christmas ornaments. That was my life too.

Joe and I reconnected at the beginning of the year. He contacted my sister and her husband, and for some reason I felt very strongly that I wanted to talk to him. We emailed and texted through the year, talking on the phone only a few times. We patched up a lot of things, reminisced about shared experiences that no one else can share, and I had the chance to say I’m truly sorry. We sent music and quotes and book recommendations, but the thing that I will hold in my heart forever is poetry. Joe was a poet, and he wrote poetry for me. I know he wrote for others as well, but the poetry he wrote for me, touched my heart and made me find the love I had for him again. He said I was his muse, and perhaps that’s true, but I know I was certainly his audience and sounding board.

Perhaps Joe would feel uncomfortable with this, but I know he would have liked to have been recognized as a poet, so I will share some of his best. He even inspired me to write some of my own. We were just kids, but we were together for 17 years, and those were very formative years. I will always hold Joe in my heart. I joked with him earlier this year,  telling him he could have one of the larger ventricles. I hope he knows that he has some very valuable real estate! I have to save some room for my lovely husband, and child, (not to mention friends and family!). 🙂 Without them I would be lost.

Some day

In the clouds

Our thoughts

Will mix and intermingle

The true you

The true me

For everyone to see

And you will know the true me

And I will know the true you

And we will share that

With a million other souls

Floating aimlessly

Amongst the clouds

Joe Rabel  2/2/2018

I find my words in everything

In the leaves

The changing colors of Fall

The lack of them inWinter

But you bring me Spring

And new blossoms form

But still I yearn for Summer

When all comes to fruition

And the circle is formed

Such is life

And the circle turns

Until we ourselves are done

But then we are gone

Though we can’t see it

The seasons carry on

The circle never ends

Joe Rabel. 1/29/18

Like bonsai

I hurt myself

Not to be more beautiful

But to be more refined

The pruning is that of the soul,

Removing the small branches

And keeping the strong ones

That are old and twisted

But can take the weight.

A cleansing

Of that which is no longer useful.

With new eyes I see the world,

And I learn to look inside for beauty.

I glance your way

And you seem to glow.

Joe and Mardy  3/11/18

Progress

My studio mate and I have been making great progress. We spend hours in the studio, and yesterday Ashwin even went out to sell his wares. He made enough to buy a Lego mini figure. I’m still trying to figure out what works best for the octopus drawings and will begin a large one over the weekend. This afternoon we are going on a whale watch, but Ashwin and I already saw a pod from the shore on the West side of San Juan Island. I’m hoping to see some up close today.

 Below are some results, the good the bad and the ugly. Please let me know which one you prefer if you have a moment!

The drawing on the left is by Ashwin, it reminds me of Hundertwasser.

Day is done. I put some pages up for people who peek through the door.

A New Love

Who knew I could fall in love again after 50? …..with a new medium! I have been taking pottery classes since last November and although I have a lot to learn and I need practice, I absolutely love it. I didn’t take a picture of my first two mugs (not worth showing) but this is one of the first bowls I made. I like the black and white glaze with the yellow eggs.


I am enjoying making utilitarian objects and when I’m at the wheel, I don’t think about anything else in my life – just clay, just form. It is such a pleasure. I’m experimenting with glazes and I have to say, this is the part that I find the hardest to understand. I have had a few failures. These small ice cream bowls were all thrown from the same large mound and the interior was finished with a cd to make the curve.


My first attempt at sgraffito went pretty well, but I think I liked the bird vase better before glazing – although I do like the ‘sunset surprise’. I used a small sgraffito tool that was a bit difficult to control, so I bought a new set of small carving tools and my next attempt went much better. 

The bright colored tools come in many shapes and sizes. This shows the octopus in progress, before firing. I’m much happier with this one. I’m hoping to do a lot more work like this as my skills improve. For now I’m just experimenting but I will be keeping the glaze very simple on this one. Perhaps just transparent white.


I made some cups and played with glazes with some better results. These two will be going to India for my mother and father-in-law (please don’t spoil the surprise). 


I think this is my new favorite glaze. 


I feel that showing up at the studio every week and making something useful has made me feel more creative in other areas of my life. It keeps the juices flowing and I have been feeling very inspired when I sit down to draw.

Musee de Cluny and Sacre Coeur

Sorry, I guess I need to learn how to type with accents!

These places speak for themselves but I have to say, I went to the Musee de Cluny to see the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, and I was blown away by the building. It is an original medieval building begun in 1334 and rebuilt in the 15th century. The museum also includes an attached ‘frigidarium’ in which the remnants of the 3rd century Gallo-Roman baths can be viewed. My photos just couldn’t do it justice but trust me it is ‘tres cool’ (ha-ha frigidarium?). The tapestries are also well worth the trip and there are no lines or crowds here. Is this the best kept secret in Paris or what? 

Hotel de Cluny

Amazing door handle at Musee de Cluny.

Sundial, Musee de Cluny

Ashwin raced us to the top of Sacre Coeur, 300 steps! Although there are plenty of crowds below, there aren’t many people climbing to the dome. I think this is also one of the truly great things to do in Paris and Ashwin loved it!

Walkway at the top of Sacre Couer.

View from the top of Sacre Coeur.


I think Ashwin took this picture.

Crowded and happy..

Carousel at Hotel de Ville.


We went to some of the big tourist sights on Monday and Tuesday, thinking they might not be as crowded. Not so. Monday was very cool and rainy so we went to the Pompidou. It had a huge line…in the rain. Luckily Ashwin had his happy moment on the carousel because he was not happy at the Pompidou. This was his only really cranky day, but I don’t blame him, we were damp, tired, and everywhere we went it was crowded. My sandals felt like two wet pancakes and I was kind of cranky too.

The next day we went to Notre Dame quite early. There was already a line across the square waiting to get into the cathedral, and one going down the side for the climb to the top of the tower. So we decided to explore Ile St. Louis instead. It was quiet and beautiful – then we stumbled across Marie Curie’s house which made Venkatesh very happy. Afterwards we spent some time in the park behind Notre Dame where there were lots of kids and Ashwin could play. 

Ashwn fell off onto his head soon after this.

Back of Notre Dame.

We walked down along the Seine, and stopped into my happy place, Sennelier – full of the most beautiful art supplies and smelling of linseed oil. Heaven on earth! Then we walked across the street and  took a pedi cab to the Eiffel Tower. Don’t ever take a pedi cab in Paris – they take you to your destination and then try to charge you per person instead of per ride (they didn’t get away with it). 

The Eiffel Tower was surrounded by fencing and guess what? a line to get in. We decided not to go in and walked around the back to the park…which was fenced off too. But at the back there was another entrance to the tower and NO LINE! So we ended up going up to the second level and I’m so glad, it was breathtaking. The huge yellow and orange wheels of the elevator mechanism felt prehistoric and modern at the same time. Visually stunning. The park behind the tower was fenced off for the Euro Football Fan Zone. Masses of fans dressed in their countries colors (and sometimes liederhosen) were arriving for the night, so we decided to leave and take the long walk back to the hotel through small shopping streets. It was the night before the big sale season and everyone was applying ‘Soldes 50%’ signs to their shop windows. Shops stayed open late and there was a music fest going on. We stayed out late that night, eating, walking and listening to a new band around every corner. It was crowded too, but lively, and we danced in the streets until Ashwin got mad because he was feeling left out.

Earlier in the day we walked by Edith Wharton’s house and the plaque by the door had a quote: ‘My years of Paris life were spent entirely in Rue de Varenne – rich years, crowded and happy years”. And I thought, yes that sounds exactly right – crowded, but incredibly rich and I’m very happy to be here. Can we stay forever?