Veteran's Day

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"If you value your freedom thank a vet." I don't know who said that or when I first heard it. I grew up with it. This pairing of violence with liberty and freedom. It is in the hymns I sang as a child in school and church, back when those lines were still blurred in Mormon Utah. I grew up on stories of revolution by force starting at Lexington and Concord. Liberating strife.........
Ute_indians2_year_1878.jpg Here in the mountains of Zion my ancestors fought with the "remmenant of Jacob" to protect their homes and farms from cattle thieving Utes. My great grand father was honored as a veteran of that strife. The treaty that ended the Black Hawk War is still reenacted sometimes around here. There is a statue in the town of Manti just west of the LDS temple there depicting the Ute chief Walkara beside a pioneer man and woman gesturing toward the temple. It tells the stoy of Walker, as he became known, inviting the Mormons to come and share the area with his people. He had no concept of fences and Euro-American settlement. Very quickly he could see that the influx of wagons full of farmers was going to obliterate his people's way of life. As the game began to dissapear the Utes began to eat Mormon beef and that is where this liberating strife began. It ended when the Utes were relocated to a reservation in eastern Utah.
So I called my friend Jim who served in Viet Nam in the Marine Corps and thanked him and to wish him a happy Veteran's Day. I missed out on the war. I was in Canada responding to a call from my church to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to First Nation people there on Iriquois and Ojibaway reserves.
Now I spend my Fridays volunteering at the local state prison helping descendants of the Utes my ancestor fought pray and sing to their god in the traditional Ute way. Life is often circular like that.


I also thought about  the death of Alyssa Peterson, a non commissioned officer in Iraq who killed herself after being  ordered to torture detainees. Her case received a lot of attention a year or so ago. I wrote a blog about it then but it was eaten by cyber-gremlins.
The news reported that one in four vets are homeless today. In Utah on any given day there are 530 veterans living on the street.  If you value your freedom, thank one of them.

On the Roid Again

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roid.jpgYears ago when we were all younger I bought an old (1953) GMC flat bet with my friend Bruce Burnham. The truck was used to haul firewood, coal, lodgepole pine, firebrick and whatever else needed to be moved. The old boy did some serious duty in his time. The Roid (short for Hemroid) was the baddest ride in Sanpete County all through the eighties and early nineties. On a trip from Salt Lake hauling fire brick for my wood kiln in ht early nineties he lost a wheel and the program ground to a halt. The rear dual wheel went one way and I and the Roid went on down the road flattening one side of the brake drum. I towed the Roid home and it has been parked here ever since. A few years ago, after considerable searching at junk yards, I got a new brake drum to replace the one messed up in the fire brick incident so I could move the truck into my lot to keep the city from citing me for having it parked in their right of way.

Kent.jpgSaturday morning I drained the old gas out of it, put new fuel in the tank and dropped a new 6 volt battery in the truck. The old Roid fired right up and purred like a cat. I was delighted and relieved as I had arranged for Zina to bring a crew of her college buddies down to help us move the logs for our future home to our new lot. We purchased the logs (a disassembled 1880's house ) from Scott Anderson and Kent Perkins. Kent dropped by to see how the project was going. I think the He and Scott are glad that we will be re-habing the old house and living in it.

34feet.jpg Zina and her crew of six spent Friday night in Spring City and after eating breakfast with us and got right into moving the logs. The longest of the logs were 34 feet and weighed a lot. I was very glad for a bunch of young healthy folks to help out.

roidride1.jpgW.C. Fields said that youth is wasted on the young. I am just glad there is such a thing as young people inj the world.

longlog.jpgUp at the new lot we stacked the logs on blocks in preparation for wrapping them with water proof material for the winter. Building can't start any sooner than Spring and may be much later depending on financing and the sale of our current home.

churchroid.jpgWe made four or five trips to get all of the logs moved. The lot where the logs have been stored has just been sold to our friends Russ and Sharon Evans. They will  be building a commercial building on the site. It is a sweet location, right across from the LDS Meeting House. I think they plan to open an antique shop of some sort. It will be a great improvement to Spring City's Main Street.

CalebandZi.jpgCaleb and Zuna horseing around.

goose.jpgJoe the Potter takes one for the team. That really hurt!

LindseyZi.jpgLinsey Pack and Zina showing the boys just how it is done. Girls can do!

roidshot.jpgNow that is one fine piece of machinery. Moving the Bennion's log house adds to a long list of mythic tasks this old six banger has accomplished.

crew.jpgThe log pile was finished none to soon. Pictured here are (L to R) Chris Nielsen, Kendall Wilcox, Davey Ornegri, Lindsey Pack, Adam Barlow, JTP, and Zina. Missing from the photo are Ash Sanders, Jason Brown and Caleb Proulx. They went home early and others showed up late. It was a great day with great kids. At lunch we fed them on a new recipe of mine I call "Four Square Medicine Chilli. It features Venison, beans, squash and corn. They must have liked it....... no leftovers.

To Be Welsh

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 "To be born in Wales, not with a silver spoon in your mouth, but, with music in your blood and with poetry in your soul, is a privilege indeed." Brian Harris
This pretty amazing. My only question is why do they follow Paul's performance with Steven Tyler?

The old man

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old man.jpg
My father, Owen Bennion, lives in rural Missouri where he walks every morning on the roads near his home. He is 85 and underwent bypass surgery over ten years ago. He is careful about what he eats and gets out every day to walk.
Following his example (and not wanting to follow him into surgery) I go out every morning and walk with my dogs. Dixon always goes and Mr booh sometimes. We start out at 6am and walk by starlight, watching as the grey darkness gives way to colors and light. It is a great time think and be alone. Sometimes Lee come along but not much. She is usually saving herself for a ride with her horses.
I like to think of myself as following my dad's path in this life. He has done a lot of good and little harm to anyone. He is surely the source of my desire to have faith. He taught me that.
This morning as Dixon and I walked in the darkness I called him on the cel phone and visited while mom was getting breakfast on for him. They are happy together. I count myself lucky to still have them around.

Lee's Virtues

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Lee and I were asked to speak in church on the topic of Virtue and Vice.
Lee spoke briefly but very powerfully on the topic of Virtue. She lsited the virtues she values. Here is her list. I see it as descriptive of her and a laundry list for me to work on. Oh Well.

To be patient and kind not only when things are going well, but when things are tough. This includes people and animals.

To give service, especially when not asked or assigned.

To be sensitive and observant with those you live and work around; Those who are easiest to ignore or take for granted.

To pray everyday.

To not take offense when none is intended.

To be honest with yourself. Do not make excuses or justifications for thoughts or actions you know are wrong. Live in integrity.

To hold your toung and not speak guile.

To not judge others.

 To practice repentance .

To be industrious; physically, mentally, intellectually, civicly and spiritually.

To be modest in action, speech and dress.

To be humble in your countenance.

To be obedient and submissive to God's laws.

To be generous with your time, heart, back, arms and all of your wealth.

To forgive with your heart, not just with your lips.

To be grateful and express your gratitude.

To be a peacemaker and diffuse or deflect contention.

To have faith and to share it with others.

Moving logs

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We recently purchased two log cabins from a couple we know. They had disassembled the cabins and stored them under tarps here in town. The smaller of the two (16'x28') will be a new painting studio for Lee when we move to our new place. The larger one (18'x34') will eventually be a residence for us. They are both quite old and came from around here in the nineteenth century.


The kids who live next door to where the smaller cabin was stored came over to help us move the logs. The two smaller ones were fun to have around. The largest boy was actually very helpful. Pictured are Lee, Wyatt, J.C. and Tyler.


The logs are now stored in the orchard on our new place close to where the studio will stand.

Recent work

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During the past week I have been getting the wheel turning again after a long break. Here are some of the things I have been throwing. Click on the thumbnails to see bigger images.




Truth Restored

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Thanks Kevin. This one works for me.

I got an email from a pottery student asking me about how I make mug handles. What follows is some instruction with images I took of myself. Unfortunetly shooting my own demo means I can only have one hand in the photo.   So you will have to imagine the other one.                                                                                                                                                                                     
Thumbnail image for handles1.jpg
I start with a piece of well kneaded clay that looks like this.

handles3.jpgFrom this piece of clay I will pull a long handle. Note the ridge down the middle. The handle tapers from the ridge in the middle to each outside edge. I use my right hand (not shown) to pull. I alternate between  running my thumb down the right and left sides of the handle to accomplish this effect. I keep pulling until I have attained the thickness (or thiness) that desire. Finding what works for you will take some time and practice.

handles4.jpgAfter getting the long handle right I pinch off short handle stubs and lay them out. These stubbs are alter attached to the mug and pulled more so they don't have to be long. The way these are pulled they taper slightly from top to bottom. Make note of this.

handles5.jpgUsing a cerrated rib or some such tool I score the clay where I want to attach the handle to the mug.  Next the scored clay is dampened with thin slip or water.


I thin pick up the handle stub and dampen the bottom (or thinner end) and press it into the scored and dampened clay with a wiggling motin until it feels attached. You will feel it attaching and becoming one piece of clay.

handles7.jpgGripping the handle stub near its attachment to the mug I squeeze and press it into the mug making the attachment more sure. This motion should cause the handle to thicken a little toward that attachment as you see here.

handles8.jpgAfter dipping my free hand in water for lubrication I start pulling the handle with a FEW quick strokes that begin very near the attachment. I am looking for a handle that thickens slightly at the point of attachment and taper away from there. I don't want the handle too thick or thin. Again, practice will tell what that looks and feels like.

handles9.jpgAs I return the mug to a vertical position I dampen the side of the mug where I expect to attach the bottom of the handle and make that attachment.

handles10.jpgThe excess tail of the handle is cut away with a needle tool and the handle is smoothed in place.

handles11.jpgHere are a couple of finished mugs with handles. It takes a while to hit the proportions right. Be aware of how this mug will fit in the hand. It is easy to get too much handle. Decide if you wanat a one, two or three finger handle. It is better to err on the small side, I think.
Practice a lot before you start keeping mugs for firing. There are already enough bad mugs in the world. It is like my early teacher Andy Watson used to say: "The good Lord spent four billion years getting that clay to this point, don't do something in the next five minutes that will mess that up."
A great idea for practicing is to take a glass or plastic cylinder and attach handles to it over and over again until it comes easily.

Today's Music: "Lay it Down" Cowboy Junkies

Today's Quote:  "Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has
 no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the
unbending; the soft can overcome the hard." - Lao Tse

What the heck?

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Hi, I am back. Some time ago an evil cyber nerd ate my blog. It appears that, for now, the "Potter's Journal" I have kept for the past few years is gone. Oh well. Lessons in non-attachment.
As the blog was disappearing I was in preparation mode for my last commercial river trip of the season. I launched September 14 on the Colorado River and ran 13 days through Grand Canyon. It was a great trip. The crew were all geezers. The youngest was 53 and the eldest was in his late fifties. It was nice to have that much maturity and experience on board.
A week later I launched again on the Colorado from Moab, Utah for six days in Cataract Canyon with no one else except my sweetie, Lee. That was the trip of a lifetime. More to follow on that.
Back in Spring City I am now busy clearing out this year's garden and settling into fall pottery making. My holiday sales are only six weeks away. Whew!