Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: pottery

My pottery is still on display at City Olive in Andersonville.
Last weekend was the Arts & Design Weekend, but you still have time to snatch up some Fire When Ready Pottery this weekend too! Stop by at 5644 North Clark Street in Chicago.

Categories: bike, sunrise

After a week of rainy mornings, it was great to finally get a dry Friday.
Clear skies with no chance of precipitation this morning.

Categories: theater

Tonight I went to see “Sweeney Todd” by Porchlight Music Theater at Stage 773. I was pretty excited to see a live production of the show… as I’ve seen the movie version “far too many” times. They did a wonderful job in the small, intimate theater space. The actress that plays Mrs. Lovett was incredible!!! We were in the front row just a foot or two from the action. I had to pull my feet in a couple times just not to get stepped on by an actor or rolling prop piece. It was bloody good fun – perfect to kick-off the fall Halloween season!!!

Categories: holiday, pottery

With a trio of soda-fired bottles by my friend & potter Emily Murphy.
She may now live in Minneapolis, but these beautiful bottles now live with me!!!

Categories: seasons, totem pole

After my weekend in southern Indiana, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the ivy in my back courtyard has started to change colors. But not a subtle gradation of colors. Instead, a smattering of deep red leaves mixed amongst the greens. A great backdrop for one of my handmade totem poles!

Categories: food
Categories: bike, friends

By the time we finished breakfast, got dressed in our bike gear and packed up our stuff, the colors of the sunrise had dissipated and we were left with some beautiful cloud cover.

Ready to start Day Two…

And what better way to kick-off the morning than with a steep hill to warm-up those muscles?! This one is called Photo Hill. And so I did.

More rollling through beautiful farmland today.

And more apples…

And more animals to play with.
Always eager at the fence line to watch the thousands of bicyclists rolling by.

Today was a bit brighter, and the colors more vivid. We still had quite a few hills to tackle… pedaling up one side, and rolling down the other.

The fun continues mile after mile…

When we got to lunch, we were greeted with another great visual that brings back memories of many a group bike ride! Rows & rows of porto-potties.

With plenty of apple cider at the ready to quench the thirst of many a biker.

Back on the road cruising through endless color.

With more farmland along the way. And for the first time, these grain bins were actually “working” being filled with corn. I’ve never really heard that happening before. Not surprisingly, it’s pretty darn loud. Still a fun photo-op – especially with a group of kids & parents pedaling by on tandems & trailers.

So I’ve already stopped for llamas & cows… so why not stop again for a trio of friendly horses?!

By the time we got to the final rest stop of the day, the sky was clouding over. We only have another 10 miles to go, so no hurry here.

Okay, so there is this little obstacle in the way. My nemesis.
We go up this hill every year and I hate it every year!!! Anything over 20% incline is tough!
Not to mention that the hill is one lane up, and one lane down. There are a LOT of bikers tackling it at the same time. Several people walking it up the right. Fewer passing on the left. My shoes are clipped into my pedals. The road is rough. The should is non-existent. And I’m pedaling so hard that the front wheel of my bike is literally lifting off the road. Not a fun time.

No need to worry about THAT speed limit, huh?!

We made it to the end of the ride, and it was so cute to see the tandem group finish with their kids. We had been seeing them all weekend, on the road and “camping” at night. The kids were so cute, and troopers on the road.

Back in the parking lot, we were done with another Hilly Hundred… and gearing up for the ride home. A quick shower, change of clothes, pack up the car and on the road again. This time without pedaling!!!

Another wonderful ride through rural Indiana. Beautiful colors. And fun with friends.
Until next year…

Categories: sunrise

We awoke to a beautiful morning.
A wonderful sunrise to kick-off Day Two of The Hilly Hundred.

Even the official “starting line” banner looked pretty inviting with the sunrise making a fun silhouette.

Categories: food, friends

After the ride, Nancy and I went out for dinner to Janko’s Little Zagreb. A favorite steakhouse in Bloomington, Indiana. While we were waiting for our table, we saw the sign that listed the specials. One of them was a 2-pound Tomahawk Ribeye… which I had never even heard of. Nancy explained what it was… basically a ribeye with the full rib bone still attached. Picture the opening scene of The Flintstones when the full dinosaur ribcage is dropped on Fred’s car at the drive-in restaurant.

So here’s our Tomahawk Ribeye. Two pounds of grilled fun…
look how small the potato looks next to it!!! Okay, don’t freak out…. Nancy and I split it.

And what birthday would be complete without a little birthday cake?!
Or in this case, birthday CHEESEcake!!! Yum.

Categories: bike, food, friends

We started the day with layers upon layers; A bit chilly, but perfect for Nancy & I to get started on our bikes. The Hilly Hundred is my favorite bike ride of the year. It’s just fifty miles each day, with just a “few” hills along the way!!!

So much fun to be pedaling through Southern Indiana with a lot of other bikes. The rest stops are always stocked with snacks, apples, water & apple cider. Lucky for us, the first rest stop usually has plenty of donuts too!!!

Part of my “entertainment” at the first rest stop was when Nancy found out that her bike tights were on inside-out. Watching her trying to correct that without sitting, or more importantly falling over, was fun to watch… and she succeeded!!!

Further down the road, we stopped on a street corner to regroup. Suddenly we realized that we were standing at a very “special” corner for the both of us!

Yep, Nancy is the friend that got me into pottery in the first place. During the Hilly Hundred of all places. My how we’ve both come full circle. It was several years ago when we were riding The Hilly Hundred through a small town called Nashville, Indiana. We happened to stop in a small pottery studio during lunch. Nancy mentioned that she had always wanted to take pottery class… so it was right there & then that we decided to take our first pottery classes at Lillstreet. So my whole pottery career is kind of Nancy’s fault!!!

We’ve always said that the “best part of biking is stopping.” And you never know WHERE you might stop. A great place for pie. A scenic overview. A planned rest stop. Or in this case, a somewhat prophetic message for my bike… and if I keep eating those donuts at the rest stop, we might have an issue?!

I love riding through farm fields. The agriculture. The animals. The barns.
So many great sights to see as you’re rolling down the road.

And then we’re back to the hills. This one is called Cemetery Hill… maybe because of the actual cemetery at the top, or because you’re “dead” when you pedal up to the top of the hill?! And there’s Nancy in the blue coat working her way to the top…

Stopping again… this time to make friends with a local llama along the way. So many people pedal right past everything on the route so focused on getting to the end. I prefer to stop along the way and have some fun… and this llama was more than eager to play too!!!

Soon enough it was time for lunch… time to drop the bikes and get some food.

And for anyone who has ever done The Hilly Hundred, you’ll definitely recognize the cardboard mats that everyone uses at lunch to sit on the damp grass.

Back on the road… sometimes you’re alone… sometimes there are a few other bikers… while other times there are a LOT of bikers sharing the road. Either way, the curving roads through beautiful Fall colors are always fun!

Although the day was mostly overcast, the Fall colors were still beautiful.

At the last rest stop of the day, I ran into a friend of mine. Nancy and I were sitting chatting & snacking. When all of a sudden Kelly came walking up to chat. Kelly and I worked together this summer during “Fire, Forge & Feast” Summer Camp. She’s a metalsmith who tackled the first day of metals during our camp. She went to school in Bloomington, Indiana so she’s accustomed to the hills… but I’m pretty sure her secret power is in the leather moccasins she wears while she’s riding. No bike shoes for her!!!

At the end of Day One, we had had a wonderful ride through Southern Indiana. Wonderful Fall colors. Great “stops” along the way. And a fund day with friends… and we get to do it all over again tomorrow!!!