Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: artists, creativity, inspiration, sculpture

Now if only we had a little more snow…
I could totally get outside to make one of these “tasty” snow sculptures! HA!!!
Thanks to Snow Art Zone for the inspiration!

Categories: Chicago, creativity, inspiration, sculpture

Okay, so who else remembers these?!… or maybe it’s just a Chicago-thing???
Automatic plastic molded sculptures while you wait!!! Who doesn’t want that?!

The sound of the machine cranking.
The clear bubble to let you see it working.
The smell of the molten plastic.
Pulling them out of the slot while they’re still hot.
Having to carry them upside-down while the plastic cools & solidifies!!!
Whenever we went to the Zoo or a Museum, we would get to choose which ONE of these little statues we wanted as a souvenir.

And every time I smell that melted plastic… I’m eight years old again!!!

For even more about the MOLD-A-RAMA… click here!

I’d like to add a little side note… maybe a little bit of a “Spoiler Alert”???

While I was in the Primate House, the Mold-A-Rama technician was there cleaning the machine and putting any of the errant plastic back into the reservoir. I mentioned how much I loved the Mold-A-Rama as a kid… and how the smell was such a childhood flashback. Then he mentioned that they’ve been working on trying to make a candle that actually has that classic Mold-A-Rama scent!!! Yes, please!!!



Categories: Chicago, holiday, inspiration

Always a fun surprise when the CTA Holiday Train with Santa aboard turns the corner while you’re waiting on the platform. Suddenly flooded with a festive feeling… even though we were on the wrong side going the wrong direction to get on the train! Dang.

And then imagine my surprise when the very next train was the Elves’ Workshop Train!!! Still so fun & festive!!!!

Categories: artists, creativity, inspiration

Here’s “THE SHIP OF TOLERANCE” by Ilya & Emilia Kabakov that has been “docked” down on Navy Pier for the past month or so as part of EXPO Chicago. A wonderful art installation that utilizes a sail hand-painted by local schoolkids to highlight tolerance & inclusiveness. A wonderful concept for the kids to discuss & embrace. Sadly, today is the final day of the Ship’s tour of Chicago… as it will now sail off to its next destination.


Categories: food, inspiration

Words to live by… and some dark chocolate purely for “medicinal” purposes.
Dark chocolate is good for me, right?!!!

Categories: animals, inspiration, The Ghouls Collection
Categories: inspiration, Mom

RIP : TUESDAY, AUGUST 6th, 2019.
It was early on that Tuesday morning I was already at Lillstreet getting ready for my Summer Campers to arrive. My phone rang early and I saw that it was my Dad calling. He never calls in the morning. He’s more of a later in the evening phone call kind of guy. I immediately had the sinking feeling that I knew what the call was going to be. The phone call we had all been waiting for. The phone call we had all been dreading. The inevitable phone call to let me know tat Mom had passed.

I stepped outside to take the phone call from the privacy of my car. I knew I didn’t want to hear “the news” with everyone around. And yes, it was the news we had all been expecting… that my Mom had passed early that morning. Quiet. Serene. Just as we would have wanted it to be. I asked my Dad if he needed me to do anything. To find a quick sub for camp… to leave Lillstreet and come out to their house… stuff like that. He said “no” that he was okay, and oddly relieved, and that my sister & brother were coming over to help out with everything. He said I should continue my day at Summer Camp as best I could.

And then… as I was walking back into Lillstreet, right there on the corner of Lillstreet there was a single stalk of milkweed with the tiniest of baby birds there chirping & chirping like crazy. Just a baby bird that had lost his Mom.

Now I know the feeling.
And it was a little too coincidental… a little too ironic.

Another sign from Mom… I got it. Slapped upside the head one more time!!!

baby bird without his Mom


Categories: food, inspiration, Mom

A few weeks back I had received some fresh-grown rhubarb from my friends down in Peoria. I intended to make a yummy sheet dessert that my Mom used to make with it. Kind of a shortbread crust, custard filling and rhubarb baked into the top. I looked all over for the recipe, but couldn’t find it. So I put the rhubarb in the freezer… hoping to find the recipe when I got back from vacation.

As we were driving, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, I told Chris the same story about Mom’s recipe… as we had many touching discussions about my Mom and her situation during our drive. I had kind of forgotten about those discussions, and that rhubarb recipe, until we stopped off in Amish-land Indiana. As were were looking around to buy a yummy pie for me to share with my pottery class that night.

And there it was…. an Amish pie version of the exact same rhubarb dessert I had been telling Chris all about. The same recipe I had been searching for. Done. Made. And ready for us to eat. Another “sweet” sign from Mom?! I think so.

Categories: inspiration, Mom, movie, movies

While hanging out in Lake Placid getting accustomed to the town, prepping, eating & relaxing… Chris and I decided to go see a matinee movie in town. Luckily the theater was playing the new “live action” version of THE LION KING. Of course I was excited as I love the original animated version. But don’t think that the symbolism was lost on me…

That the movie is all about losing a parent figure
and then needing to step up and make the best of yourself moving forward.
To discover who you are, grow and never forget who has passed before you.

Thanks Mom… I got the message!
Hakuna Matata!

Lion King

losing a parent

Hakuna Matata


Categories: inspiration, Mom, special events, vacation

As we were standing on the rooftop deck out side of our Lake Placid room, we could look out over Mirror Lake and see where the IRONMAN swim course was already set-up. As Chris and I were looking at the water, we were suddenly impressed by a full rainbow that stretched over the lake.

It wasn’t until later that evening that I called my sister Jen to check-in for any updates on my Mom’s situation. I was aware that this was going to be a tough day for my Dad & family… as they were having a “final” discussion with the medical doctors, and deciding to move onto the hospice phase of her care. It was a tough decision for all of us. Yet we were all sadly aware that there was no more hope for recovery or any sort of “quality of life” left for my Mom. We were responsible for seeing to her final wishes.

As I was talking to my sister on the phone, she told me all about the meeting, the doctors, the choices, and the decision agreed on by all to move forward with hospice care. She then asked me about my trip to see how it was going, and to make sure we made it there okay. I told her about our “accidental trip” into Canada, and then told her about our hotel room and the rainbow over Mirror Lake.

She stopped me right there. The mention of the rainbow stopped the story.
She told me that during the meeting with the doctors, they offered up three different hospice care companies. My sister & brother researched each of them, checked locations & services, and finally chose the one that best fit our needs & wishes.

The name of the company?…    RAINBOW HOSPICE.

Yep, chills went through me too!
Like this isn’t a “sign” from my Mom???… saying that she’s okay with the choice???…
and that she is wishing me well in my upcoming swim?! I mean seriously?!

Could she make it any more obvious?!!!
Slapped right upside the head. “Hey look at me… and my rainbow!!!”