Kindness, both knowing and unknowing

ceramic-cup Sometimes kindness is a cup of tea, shared between friends. Sometimes kindness is the vessel that holds the tea.

Things have been a little less than peachy around here of late. A few weeks ago I was unwell - for three weeks - during which time I also suffered a rather devastating loss of a loved-one. Mr B was overseas for work so I had to deal with the combination of grief, pain and illness while caring for the children on my own, and keeping up appearances - whatever that means - for the sake of the little ones.

It wasn't easy and I'm not going to lie: more than once I locked myself in the bathroom to cry in private, then rinsed my red eyes and emerged, beaming like a mild maniac, "Who wants to play with play dough?"

I'm not the kind of person who finds it easy to open up or reach out when times are tough and so, as a result, I carried the first week of sickness and sadness entirely alone, before eventually the lump in my throat began to relax and allow me to share.

During that lonely week, completely unaware of anything that was going on, Tommy knocked on my door, bearing the gift of this lovely ceramic cup, made with his own hands.

I first met Tommy in the sandpit of Scout's childcare centre, where he used to teach the children. He transferred to a different childcare centre not long after that, but we used to bump into him all the time: at a school fete, at the local deli, in the park. And then one day Tommy reached out to me via this blog, and I sent him some mail art (it was this envelope).

Recently he switched directions in career, and is now pursuing ceramics full time. When he knocked on my door that day, handmade cup in hand, it was Tommy's way of saying "thank you" for the mail art I had sent him way back then.

He could not have known how horrible a week I was having, or just how much his gift could have cheered me in that moment. It wasn't a small gesture, either. Often I talk about how precious snail-mail is to people because it's hand-written, tangible, and permanent: I put it to you that there is not much more hand-made or tangible than ceramics.

Thank you, Tommy. I think what you created is beautiful but, more than that, every time I drink my tea from this cup I will be reminded of your kindness, both knowing and unknowing, at a time when I really needed it.



Is there anyone who doesn't like playing with clay? I mean, you may or may not fantasise about THAT scene in Ghost, and anyway that's none of my business, but I bet if I handed you a lump of clay right now, you'd start manipulating it. Rolling, flattening, squeezing, shaping, smoothing…

There is something so wonderfully tactile about clay that makes it almost impossible to resist. Even more-so if you harbour dreams of creating beautiful things, and even more than that if you happen to be a three-year-old well-practiced in the art of play-dough, who ALSO harbours dreams of creating beautiful things.

We were at the Northcote Pottery Supplies open day a couple of weeks ago, and Scout was in her element. She made a plate: she shaped it, smoothed it, trimmed it and painted it and was incredibly proud. And then she held my hand and insisted on taking a tour of the entire studio, upstairs and down, watching demonstrations and visiting every individual artist in turn.

Now, Scout wants to make something more. I want to make something too! How about you? Do you want to make something with me?