Tonight, I met my girlfriend’s brother for the first time. I have met his wife a couple times before. They come into town for regional meetings, but both times before he was at the meetings when I was at their parents’ house. Since we are engaged, everyone thought it best that I meet the final family member. Tomorrow is a meeting day, so tonight we relaxed at the family home for a meal and conversation.
Unfortunately it is not a day off for my girlfriend so she couldn’t join us. I sent her a message today telling her I was worried because sometimes brothers can be tougher than parents. Generally we had a good time; although my Japanese felt a little off today, probably because I had a lot of difficult planning meetings today where people pretended to not understand something rather than just telling me my way was impossible. (That always leaves me a little disoriented because I keep second guessing my explanations until I figure out their true meaning.)
As always, the food was delightful and ample. Because I am sans-car, my metabolism is up and I was happy to do some eating. Over dinner we were talking about doing some pottery together because the weather is warming up. Also, I have promised to help with the firing of the kiln and they are preparing to light it in May. We keep talking about me helping split the wood, but they treat me with kid gloves, so I don’t know if I’ll ever touch an axe.
Anyhow, my future Father-in-Law brought out a plate and gave it to me. I think I ate off it last time, when I was chatting with him. During firing, split wood is continually fed into a kiln buried under a mound of earth for several days. Temperatures are usually around 1300 degrees C. Looking into the fire is amazing, it is completely wild and energetic with bright flames swirling in all directions. (Yes, it is more fun than playing with FCCs at refineries.) Ash from the wood liquefies and drips onto the pottery creating a natural glaze with an amazingly tough glassy texture.
Often I am amazed at the orderly nature of the patterns born from this chaotic maelstrom. You can see two sharp lines across the face of the plate at the edge of the two grayish colored areas. The thick drip down the back side also intrigued me. Also, good potters are sure to leave their mark on the bottom: his is a diamond with a line through the middle. Before things warm up any more, I need to design my mark for future historians to identify my “great” works.
This sure beats those Elvis commemorative plates they sell on QVC.